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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

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Russians Put Punks on Trial For Prayer

Three members of the Pussy Riot punk band have appealed a court's decision to jail them for two years for their "punk prayer" against Russian leader Vladimir Putin in a Moscow cathedral, their lawyer said Monday.
The stunt angered Russia's dominant Orthodox Church, but the women's trial and punishment also upset human rights activists and others who accused the Kremlin and the Church of orchestrating the trial amid a crackdown on Putin's critics.
Protests supporting the women have been held in many countries, and celebrities such as Paul McCartney have called for their release.
The women were arrested and put on trial after their unauthorized performance at Moscow's Christ the Savior cathedral in February, during which they called on the Virgin Mary to deliver Russia from Putin. The Russian leader faces growing opposition, and he has increasingly cracked down on critics since returning to the presidency in May.
The women were sentenced on Aug. 17, and their lawyer Violetta Volkova said the appeal was submitted to the Khamovniki district court on Monday. A decision is expected within 10 days. Meanwhile, the band has said that at least two of its members have fled Russia to avoid arrest.
Also Monday, Orthodox Church leaders condemned the chopping down of wooden crosses in Russia and neighboring Ukraine by people claiming to support Pussy Riot.
In mid-August, the controversial Ukrainian group Femen, whose topless members stage pranks to support women's rights, cut down a massive Orthodox cross in Kiev to protest the band members' conviction. Four more crosses were cut down in the northern Russian region of Archangelsk and the Urals region of Chelyabinsk over the weekend.
Church spokesman Vladimir Legoida said that the vandals "taunt" Russian culture and history.
Pussy Riot manager Pyotr Verzilov said last week that the band disapproved of damaging crosses.

Army Punishes Koran Burners

The U.S. military said on Monday it was disciplining U.S. troops over two incidents that provoked outrage in Afghanistan early this year, one involving a video depicting Marines urinating on corpses and another over burned copies of the Koran.

The military said the punishments were administrative, which could include actions such as a reprimand, reduction in rank or forfeiture of pay. Neither incident so far has resulted in criminal charges, however, something that may fail to satisfy Afghan demands for justice.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai branded the Marine's actions in the video as "inhuman," and he initially called for a public trial for the soldiers over the Koran incident.

The Marine Corps announced three Marines had pleaded guilty to charges over the video, including one for "urinating on the body of a deceased Taliban soldier." Another wrongfully posed for a photo with human casualties and the third lied about the incident to investigators.

The identities of the Marines were not disclosed and disciplinary actions against other Marines would be announced at a later date, the Marine Corps said.

The video, which became public in January after the images were posted on the Internet, actually took place on or around July 27, 2011, during a counter-insurgency operation in Afghanistan's Helmand province, the Marines said, describing findings of the investigation.

One of the four Marines shown in the video can be heard saying, "Have a nice day, buddy," while another makes a lewd joke, as they urinated on three corpses.

Also on Monday, the Army announced that six soldiers received administrative punishments over an incident in which copies of the Koran and other religious material were removed from a prison library and sent to an incinerator to be destroyed. Four of the individuals involved were officers and two of them were non-commissioned officers, a spokesman said.

The incident in February touched off several days of rioting and attacks on U.S. troops after local workers found charred copies of the Koran among the trash at the incinerator at the Bagram base north of Kabul.

U.S. officials at the time said some of the religious material had been removed from the prison library at Bagram because of concern that it was extremist in nature and was being used to pass messages among prisoners.

At least 30 people died in the violence that spread across the country after the incident. Shortly after, two American officers were shot dead in a secure area of the Afghan interior ministry, a crime that remains unsolved.

Reaction to the incident prompted President Barack Obama to write to Afghan President Hamid Karzai to apologize.

An investigation into the Koran burning concluded in June with recommendations that the troops involved receive administrative punishment, a U.S. official said at the time. Details of that investigation were also expected to be released later on Monday. See Chick's THE CHAPLAIN.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Girl Could Be Killed for Burning Islamic Text

A Christian girl with Down syndrome could be punished by death in Pakistan after she was spotted holding burned pages of Islamic text in public, activists and police say.
 The girl, identified by police as Rimsha, was arrested on blasphemy charges and is being detained in Islamabad ahead of a court appearance before the end of the month, AFP reports.
 Defaming Islam, the Koran or the Prophet Muhammed is a capital offense in Pakistan.
 Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari has ordered his Interior Ministry to investigate the arrest, the Los Angeles Times reports.
 After the incident, religious tensions and rallies involving Muslim protesters forced Christians to temporarily flee Mehrabad, the Islamabad neighborhood where Rimsha resides, a senior official of All Pakistan Minorities Alliance told AFP.
A Pakistani police officer, Zabi Ullah, said Monday that the girl was arrested Thursday after hundreds of neighbors, angry over reports she had allegedly burned religious papers, gathered outside her house.
 “About 500-600 people had gathered outside her house in Islamabad, and they were very emotional, angry, and they might have harmed her if we had not quickly reacted,” he said.
 The Women’s Action Forum, a Pakistan rights group, blasted the arrest and accused police of not letting lawyers meet Rimsha in custody.
 “WAF is outraged at the total inhumanity of the men who lodged the First Information Report in the police,” a spokeswoman for the group told AFP.
But some police officials doubt reports that Rimsha burned parts of the Koran. Qasim Niazi said when the girl was brought to the police station she had a shopping bag that contained various religious and Arabic-language papers that had been partly burned, but no Koran.
Another police officer said the matter would likely be dropped once the investigation is completed and the atmosphere is defused, saying there was “nothing much to the case.” He did not want to be identified due to the sensitivity of the case.
There also are varying reports on Rimsha’s age and whether she is mentally handicapped. Zabi Ullah, a Pakistan police officer, said she is 16, while other officials have said she is either 12 or 11. Niazi said that when the girl was brought to the police station she was scared  and unable to speak normally, but he did not know whether she is mentally handicapped.

Muslims Execute 17 For Having A Party

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan, Aug 27 (Reuters) - The Taliban beheaded seventeen party-goers, including two women dancers, in Afghanistan's volatile Helmand province as punishment, recalling the darkest days of rule by the ultra-conservative Islamist insurgents before their ouster in 2001.

The bodies were found on Monday in a house near the Musa Qala district where a party was held on Sunday night with music and mixed-sex dancing, said district governor Nimatullah. Men and women do not usually mingle in Afghanistan unless they are related, and parties involving both genders are rare and kept secret.

The killings, about 75 km (46 miles) north of the provincial capital Lashkar Gah, came at the beginning of a violent 24 hours for NATO and Afghan authorities in which 10 Afghan soldiers were killed in a mass insurgent attack, also in Helmand, while two U.S. soldiers were slain by a rogue Afghan soldier.

"The victims threw a late-night dance and music party when the Taliban attacked" on Sunday night, Nimatullah, who only has one name, told Reuters.

There were no immediate claims of responsibility.

During their five-year reign, which was toppled by U.S.-backed Afghan forces, sparking the present NATO-led war, the Taliban banned women from voting, most work and leaving their homes unaccompanied by their husband or a male relative.

Though those rights have been painstakingly regained, Afghanistan remains one of the worst places on Earth to be a woman.

Some democratic freedoms have also been wound back in what rights groups fear is an effort to reach a political reconciliation and possible power-sharing with the Taliban.

The Taliban gunmen stormed a lakeside hotel near Kabul in June demanding to know where the "prostitutes and pimps" were, witnesses said. Twenty people were killed.

The Taliban said they launched the attack on Qarga Lake because the hotel was used for "wild parties".

Helmand governor spokesman Daud Ahmadi said a team had been sent to the site of beheadings to investigate.

In another setback for NATO, an Afghan soldier shot dead two U.S. troops in east Afghanistan on Monday, the latest in a series of insider killings that have strained trust between the allies ahead of a 2014 handover to Afghan security forces.

The deaths in Laghman province brought to 12 the number of foreign soldiers killed this month, prompting NATO to increase security against insider attacks, including requiring soldiers to carry loaded weapons at all times on base.

U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Martin Dempsey visited Kabul last week to talk about rogue shootings and urge Afghan officials to take tougher preventative action.

"ISAF troops returned fire, killing the ANA (Afghan National Army) soldier who committed the attack," the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force said in a statement.

There have been 33 insider attacks so far this year that have led to 42 coalition deaths. That is a sharp increase from 2011, when, during the whole year, 35 coalition troops were killed in such attacks, 24 of whom were American.

The chief coalition spokesman, German Brigadier-General Gunter Katz, told reporters the shootings would not prompt a winding back of vital cooperation or training with Afghan police and soldiers to curtail more shootings.

"We are not going to reduce the close relationship with our Afghan partners," Katz said.

Afghanistan's government said on Wednesday it would re-examine the files of 350,000 soldiers and police to help curb rogue shootings of NATO personnel, but accused "foreign spies" of instigating the attacks.

NATO commanders have played down the threat of infiltration, blaming most of the shootings on stress or personal differences between Afghans and their Western advisers that ended at the point of a gun, a frequent occurrence in Afghanistan.

But Katz said commanders now believed 10 percent of attacks had a direct Taliban infiltration link, while another 15 percent were suspected of having insurgent involvement. See Chick's MEN OF PEACE.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Gay Man Tries to Defy Dead Parents to Snag Inhertence

A wealthy father leaves a will that decrees his son must marry earn his estate, but his gay son is trying to get the courts to overturn his dead father's last wishes. The gay man, Manhattan Criminal Court Judge Robert M. Mandelbaum, married another gay man and fathered a child with a donor egg, but never married the mother. 
Mandelbaum has filed a petition on behalf of his now 2-year-old son, Cooper, that argues that a condition that might "induce the beneficiary to enter into a sham marriage of convenience" should be invalid.
The petition makes two further arguments: that Mandelbaum's homosexual partner could be considered the boy's "mother," and that excluding the boy from sharing in the family fortune would run counter to New York's policies protecting same-sex marriages and their offspring.
The petition claims the rich father was accepting of his son's lifestyle. But the will doesn't make clear why the father appeared to contradict that when it came to his estate.
An attorney for Mandelbaum declined comment on Thursday.
A proposed settlement reached by Mandelbaum and the guardians of two other grandchildren that would give equal stakes in a trust set up by the grandfather is pending court approval, though it could be a longshot.
Joshua S. Rubenstein, a Manhattan lawyer specializing in estate planning, said decedents have a right to shun possible beneficiaries – whether it's because they have two fathers or because they married someone of a different race or any other reason that might sound unreasonable or even cruel.
"We might all find that repugnant, but it's your property and you can do whatever you want with it," Rubenstein said.
Mandelbaum may have "a very strong public policy argument, but the (father's) wishes may be controlling in this case," said Laura E. Stegossi, a Philadelphia estates lawyer.
The 47-year-old Mandelbaum is the son of Frank Mandelbaum, a successful Long Island businessman who died in 2007. The father was chairman and chief executive of Intelli-Check, a Woodbury, N.Y.-based maker of software that verifies the authenticity of driver's licenses and other forms of identification.
The elder Mandelbaum's will set up a trust worth hundreds of thousands for his grandchildren and their decedents. However, the will excluded any "adopted child of Robert, if adopted while Robert is a single person, or a biological child of Robert ... if Robert shall not be married to the child's mother within six months of the child's birth."
According to court documents, Mandelbaum is the biological father of Cooper, who was born in Pomona, Calif., on April, 5, 2010. The boy was conceived by using his sperm to fertilize an egg from an anonymous donor that was then implanted in the uterus of a second woman.
Mandelbaum's petition notes that a California birth certificate lists him as the "Father/Parent" and his partner, a tax lawyer, as the "Mother/Parent." The pair married in Connecticut on July 2, 2010 – within six months of Cooper's birth.
Mandelbaum's father knew his son was in a gay relationship with another man, and frequently socialized and traveled with them, the papers add.
"Thus if it was the intent of the will were to require that Robert marry a woman, the will would thereby reflect an attempt to induce the breakup of an existing family," they say. "Any will provision reflecting such an intent is likewise unenforceable as against public policy."
Generally speaking, those who give away money have the legal right to establish any provisions for receiving the money, since the people getting the money can always refuse the provisions and simply give up the "free" money. See Chick's SIN CITY. 

Friday, August 17, 2012

Shooting Target Blames Media Bias for Inciting Attack

As authorities revealed details about the Family Research Council shooting, the head of the influential conservative organization blamed the attack on "reckless rhetoric," saying critics gave the accused gunman "a license to shoot an unarmed man."
Meanwhile, the accused shooter, Floyd Lee Corkins II, was ordered held without bond on accusations he opened fire a day earlier inside the lobby of the council's headquarters. Corkins, whose parents said he strongly supported gay rights, had a backpack full of Chick-fil-A sandwiches and a box of ammunition when he said words to the effect of "I don't like your politics" and shot a security guard, authorities said.
The guard was shot in the left arm but nonetheless managed to help take down the gunman, preventing what the police said could have been a deadly attack.
It wasn't immediately clear why Corkins, 28, had the chicken sandwiches. (He may have planned on leaving them among the dead as some sort of statement.)
The Family Research Council has steadfastly supported the president of Chick-Fil-A and his opposition to same-sex marriage, a stance that has placed the fast-food chain at the center of a hot-button national cultural debate.
The organization strongly opposes gay marriage and abortion and says it advocates "faith, family and freedom in public policy and public opinion." The conservative group sometimes testifies before Congress when it is reviewing legislation.
While blaming Corkins for the shooting, Perkins also faulted the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based left-wing organization that tracks and litigates against what it calls "hate groups". The law center labeled the council a hate group in 2010 for what it called the organization's anti-gay stance.
"Corkins was given a license to shoot an unarmed man by organizations like the Southern Poverty Law Center that have been reckless in labeling organization hate groups because they disagree with them on public policy," Perkins said.
Corkins had recently been volunteering at a D.C. community center for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. He lived with his parents in Herndon, Va., and appearing in court Thursday with what looked to be a black or swollen eye, told a federal magistrate that he had only $300.
Prosecutors requested a mental health evaluation, and Corkins' public defender did not address the allegations in court.
Corkins faces charges of assault with intent to kill and bringing firearms across state. The judge ordered him held pending a hearing next week. Corkins was otherwise silent during the hearing and stared ahead impassively.
His parents have also not commented, but they told FBI agents that their son "has strong opinions with respect to those he believes do not treat homosexuals in a fair manner."
The assault charge carries up to 30 years in prison and the weapons charge has a 10-year maximum sentence.
Corkins received a master's degree in 2006 from George Mason University's College of Education and Human Development in Fairfax. He earlier attended Grace Brethren Christian School near Andrews Air Force Base outside Washington.
The shooting was condemned by President Barack Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, as well as some gay and lesbian advocacy groups and most conservative organizations. The media, meanwhile, has not elevated the shooting to the headline grabbing level it generally does when a shooter attacks an abortion center or Indian temple.
Authorities believe Corkins parked his car at a northern Virginia Metro station and used public transportation to get downtown. An open black box resembling a gun box was found on the car's passenger seat, an affidavit said. Corkins used a Sig Sauer 9mm pistol that was legally bought and owned, said Richard Marianos, special agent in charge of the ATF's Washington field office.
The guard, Leonardo "Leo" Johnson, 46, was resting comfortably at a hospital Thursday morning. He told WJLA-TV that Corkins claimed he had come to the council's office to interview for an internship.
Johnson's mother, Virginia Johnson, said she had not been to visit him but had spoken to him by phone.
"He said he feels very well," she said in a brief interview. "I am proud of him, very proud of him." See Chick's THE TRIAL.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Christian Headquarters Attacked, Guard Shot

A Virginia man has been charged in federal court in the shooting of a security guard at the headquarters of a conservative Christian lobbying group.
Federal authorities say Floyd Lee Corkins II told a guard at the Family Research Council, "I don't like your politics" before shooting him in the arm. The guard and others helped subdue Corkins, who was taken into custody.
He's been charged with assault with intent to kill and with bringing a firearm across state lines.
Authorities found a box of ammunition and 15 Chick-fil-A sandwiches in his backpack. See Chick's THE UNWELCOME GUEST.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Biden Plays Race Card

Vice President Joe Biden touched off an uproar when he said Tuesday Republicans would put Americans “back in chains” — a remark that drew immediate criticism from the GOP and prompted Mitt Romney to tell President Barack Obama to take his campaign of “division and anger and hate back to Chicago.”

The comment drew a smattering of laughs and some noises from the 1,000 or so in the largely black crowd of supporters.

“Look at what they [Republicans] value, and look at their budget. And look what they’re proposing. [Romney] said in the first 100 days, he’s going to let the big banks write their own rules — unchain Wall Street,” Biden said a rally in Danville, Va. “They’re going to put y’all back in chains.”

The vice president’s comment in the battleground state that Barack Obama and Biden carried in 2008 immediately drew a barrage of criticism from Republicans and later in the day from Romney himself.

At a campaign event Tuesday night in Chillicothe, Ohio, Romney said Obama’s “campaign and his surrogates have made wild and reckless accusations that disgrace the office of the Presidency. Another outrageous charge came a few hours ago in Virginia. And the White House sinks a little bit lower.”

“Mr. President, take your campaign of division and anger and hate back to Chicago,” Romney said.

Romney added, “This is what an angry and desperate presidency looks like. President Obama knows better, promised better, and America deserves better.” See Chick's SET FREE!