In Association With Mysteries Magazine!
1/18/08  #452
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Dark forces are oozing their way into the cracks of society. Those who proclaim themselves beloved of God are actually tap-dancing with the devil. Evil is being used to combat evil - with the innocents as pawns of death. We have been convinced that our jobs, education, health care, and freedoms are unimportant and unpatriotic by those who say that they must destroy freedom and Democracy in order to save it. And now, we stand on the brink, high-fiving Satan and thanking him as he pushes us all over the edge and into the abyss.

This week Conspiracy Journal brings you such knuckle-cracking tales as:

- Dozens in Texas Town Report Seeing UFO -
- Mystery of the $100 "Supernote" Counterfeit Bills -
- CDC to Investigate Morgellons Mystery -
- South Pole Skier Says ETs Being Processed in Antarctica -
AND:  Experts Identify "Mona Lisa"

All these exciting stories and MORE in this week's issue of

~ And Now, On With The Show! ~


KAHUNA POWER - By Timothy Green Beckley

Twenty odd years ago paranormalist Timothy Green Beckley toured the Hawaiian islands to seek out answers to its deepest mysteries. He spoke with the native Hawaiians about phantom animals, supernatural powers, the existence of invisible beings, helpful spooks, playful spirits, the volcano Goddess Pele who appears in physical form before an eruption as well as the local version of UFOs or ghost lights.

Now after a second trip to the Islands, an updated version is being made available to those who wish to enter a seldom glimpsed society and to understand a spiritual system which is still virtually unknown to the outside world. By practicing the ancient occult art of Kahuna Magic, it is said that an individual can attract good health, love, self esteem, power and enjoy the best things in life.

Ghosts and Gods of Hawaii
Helpful Spooks
Good Spirits and Guardian Angels
Dire Warnings From the Goddess
Chants to Avoid Possession, Evil and Misfortune
Animals and the Spirit World
 Ritualistic Burials
The Menehune - Leprechauns of the Pacific

It is said that the powerful Kahuna can cure almost any disease and ailment through proper use of herbs which they cultivate. Communicate at will with higher dimensions and the departed souls of loved ones whom they are able to contact for personal guidance and assistance in all matters of everyday life. Predict and sometimes control the course of future events. After gaining the confidence of the local Kahuna practitioners author Tim Beckley and psychics Maria Carta and Penny Melis were permitted to enter a seldom glimpsed society and to understand a spiritual system which still offers considerable appeal to those living in today's world. Kahuna Power contains the chants, the prayers and the documented legends that could improve YOUR life if you let it.
You can order this book now for the special price of ONLY $17.95 plus $5.00
for Shipping!

AND, if you order right now, we will send you a VERY SPECIAL FREE GIFT - a
free audio cassette of authentic Hawaiian chants.   You get this cassette for being among the first to order this incredible book.

So don't delay, order your copy of Kahuna Power today for only $17.95 plus $5.00 for shipping -  A GREAT PRICE!

You can order online via our secure order page:  

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In This Incredible Issue:
The FeeJee Mermaid and the History of
This Elusive Creature
12 Most Popular Cryptids
Cannibalism: Who's For Dinner?
The Psychic World of Amelia Earhart
PLUS: Explore Georgia's Guidestones
The Lore of the Werewolf
Ancient Aliens-ETs or Gods?
And much more, including book, music,
and movie reviews, exhibit and
conference listings!

Get your issue TODAY at your favorite bookstore
or magazine stand.


Dozens in Texas Town Report Seeing UFO

In this Texas farming community where nightfall usually brings clear, starry skies, residents are abuzz over reported sightings of what many believe is a UFO.

Several dozen people in Stephenville, Texas — including a pilot, county constable and business owners — insist they have seen a large silent object with bright lights flying low and fast. Some reported seeing fighter jets chasing it.

"People wonder what in the world it is because this is the Bible Belt, and everyone is afraid it's the end of times," said Steve Allen, a freight company owner and pilot who said the object he saw last week was a mile long and half a mile wide. "It was positively, absolutely nothing from these parts."

While federal officials insist there's a logical explanation, locals swear that it was larger, quieter, faster and lower to the ground than an airplane. They also said the object's lights changed configuration, unlike those of a plane. People in several towns who reported seeing it over several weeks have offered similar descriptions of the object.

Machinist Ricky Sorrells said friends made fun of him when he told them he saw a flat, metallic object hovering about 300 feet over a pasture behind his Dublin home. But he decided to come forward after reading similar accounts in the Stephenville Empire-Tribune.

"You hear about big bass or big buck in the area, but this is a different deal," Sorrells said. "It feels good to hear that other people saw something, because that means I'm not crazy."

Sorrells said he has seen the object several times. He said he watched it through his rifle's telescopic lens and described it as very large and without seams, nuts or bolts.

Maj. Karl Lewis, a spokesman for the 301st Fighter Wing at the Joint Reserve Base Naval Air Station in Fort Worth, said no F-16s or other aircraft from his base were in the area the night of Jan. 8, when most people reported the sighting.

Lewis said the object may have been an illusion caused by two commercial airplanes. Lights from the aircraft would seem unusually bright and may appear orange from the setting sun.

"I'm 90 percent sure this was an airliner," Lewis said. "With the sun's angle, it can play tricks on you."

Hypothetically, Lewis said, an object of the reported size traveling through the atmosphere would leave a catastrophic “sound signature or footprint.”

“An aircraft traveling that fast and at that low altitude would leave an approximate path of four miles wide of damage,” Lewis said. “Low and fast like what was described, would leave a path similar to that of a tornado - it’s a pressure differentiation.”

Another point, he said, was something that fast and low to the ground would create thermal heat, which would create a vapor trail and none was reported.

Lewis said he knows of a plane traveling at mach one speed at an altitude of 5,000 feet, which caused a cinderblock house to collapse, so he doesn’t believe what witnesses spotted was actually a craft of any kind.

Officials at the region's two Air Force bases — Dyess in Abilene and Sheppard in Wichita Falls — also said none of their aircraft were in the area last week. The Air Force no longer investigates UFOs.

One man has offered a reward for a photograph or videotape of the mysterious object.

Erath County Constable Lee Roy Gaitan said that he first saw red glowing lights and then white flashing lights moving fast, but that even with binoculars could not see the object to which the lights were attached.

"I didn't see a flying saucer and I don't know what it was, but it wasn't an airplane, and I've never seen anything like it," Gaitan said. "I think it must be some kind of military craft — at least I hope it was."

Source: MSNBC


Mystery of the $100 "Supernote" Counterfeit Bills

The currency changer, brazenly plying his illegal trade in the Bank of China lobby, pulled out a thick wad of cash from around the world and carefully removed a bill.

The 2003 series U.S. $100 bill was a fake, but not just any fake. It was a “supernote,” a counterfeit so perfect it’s an international whodunit.

It had come from a North Korean businessman, the changer said, getting angry looks from his confederates. He stank of alcohol, but his story was plausible. The impoverished hermit nation sat just across the Yalu River from Dandong.

The Bush administration and members of Congress two years ago loudly accused North Korean leaders of being behind the counterfeiting of U.S. currency, but a 10-month McClatchy Newspapers investigation raises questions about those charges.

As the currency changer told a reporter, “The ones from Europe are much better.”

Whatever the origin of the bills, “it’s by far the most sophisticated counterfeiting operation in the world,” said James Kolbe, a former congressman from Arizona who oversaw funding for the Secret Service. “We are not certain as to how this is being done or how it’s happening.”

•The paper appears to be made from the same cotton and linen mix that distinguishes U.S. currency from others. It includes the watermarks visible from the other side of the bill, colored microfibers woven into the substrate of the banknote and an embedded strip, barely visible, that reads USA 100 and glows red under ultraviolet light.

•The bills include tiny microprint that appears as a line to the naked eye, but under magnification is actually lettering around the coat of Benjamin Franklin or hidden in the number 100 that reads either USA 100 or The United States of America.

•The same optically variable ink, or OVI, is used on the number 100 on the bottom right side of the bill. Exclusively made for, and sold to, the United States, this OVI ink gives the appearance of changing color when a banknote is viewed from different angles.

•At least 19 different versions have been printed, each corresponding to a tiny change in U.S. engraving plates — an odd thing for any counterfeiter to do. Also, they show practically invisible but intriguing additions.

•Stranger yet, the number of supernotes found indicates that whoever is printing them isn’t doing so in large quantities. Only $50 million worth of them have been seized since 1989, an average of $2.8 million per year and not even enough to pay for the sophisticated equipment and supplies needed to make them.

Industry experts such as Thomas Ferguson, former director of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, said the supernotes are so good that they appear to have been made by someone with access to some government’s printing equipment.

Some experts think North Korea does not have the sophistication to make the bills; others suspect Iran and others speak of criminal gangs in Russia or China.

Klaus Bender, the author of Moneymakers: The Secret World of Banknote Printing, said the phony $100 bill is “not a fake anymore. It’s an illegal parallel print of a genuine note.” He claims that the supernotes are of such high quality and are updated so frequently that they could be produced only by a U.S. government agency such as the CIA.

As unsubstantiated as the allegation is, there is a precedent. An expert on the CIA, journalist Tim Weiner, has written how the agency tried to undermine the Soviet Union’s economy by counterfeiting its currency.

Making limited quantities of sophisticated counterfeit notes also could help intelligence and law enforcement agencies follow payments or illicit activities or track the movement of funds among unsavory regimes, terrorist groups and others.

“As a matter of course, we don’t comment on such claims, regardless of how ridiculous they might be,” said CIA spokesman Mark Mansfield.

The lead U.S. agency in combating counterfeiting, the Secret Service, declined repeated requests for interviews for this story, as did the Federal Reserve Board and the Treasury Department.

Two years ago, as the administration’s campaign to isolate and financially cripple North Korea’s dictatorship was heating up, President Bush insisted, “We are aggressively saying to the North Koreans … don’t counterfeit our money.”

Asked about his claim last summer, Bush told McClatchy Newspapers, “I’m not at liberty to speak about intelligence matters.”

Many of the administration’s public allegations about North Korean counterfeiting trace to South Korea-based “experts” on North Korea who arranged interviews with North Korean defectors for U.S. and foreign newspapers. The resulting news reports were quoted by members of Congress, researchers and Bush administration officials who were seeking to pressure North Korea.

The McClatchy investigation, which stretched across three continents, found that one source for several stories, a self-described chemist named Kim Dong-shik, has gone into hiding. A former roommate, Moon Kook-han, said Kim is a liar out for cash who knew so little about American currency that he didn’t know whose image is printed on the $100 bill.

The international police agency Interpol issued in March 2005 an orange alert — at America’s request — calling on member nations to prohibit the sale of banknote equipment, paper or ink to North Korea.

A joint Secret Service–Federal Reserve report to Congress in 2006 said the notes were being “produced and distributed with the full consent and control” of the North Korean government.

That July, at the request of the Bush administration, Interpol assembled central bankers, police agencies and banknote industry officials in Lyon, France, to make the U.S. case against North Korea. But the Secret Service never provided any details of the evidence it said it had, instead citing “intelligence” and asking those assembled to accept the administration’s claims on faith.

Interpol’s secretary general is an American, Ronald K. Noble, a veteran of the Secret Service from 1993 to 1996. He declined to discuss the supernotes in detail, but recalled the Secret Service made clear it was “not at liberty to share all of the information” to which it had access.

In the late 1990s, North Korean diplomats were caught passing supernotes in Asian capitals; diplomatic immunity prevents prosecution.

The hardest evidence to surface so far is the 2004 indictment of Sean Garland, a leader of an Irish Republican Army splinter group, who about the same time allegedly ferried more than $1 million in supernotes to Europe, mostly from the North Korean Embassy in Moscow. Garland is now in the Republic of Ireland, but the Irish Embassy said the U.S. hasn’t sought his extradition.

More recently, in August 2005, the Secret Service announced two separate sting operations — Royal Charm and Smoking Dragon, in which Chinese crime gangs were accused of smuggling supernotes into New Jersey and Los Angeles.

David Asher, who was coordinator of a working group at the State Department that collected details on North Korean criminal activities, said his group turned up evidence of the counterfeiting and didn’t rely on “intelligence” to make its case. Asher, now a researcher at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative Washington policy organization, declined to provide any details.

John Bolton, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and a hardliner on North Korea, told McClatchy that he never saw hard evidence that Pyongyang was making the supernotes. But he said the evidence that the North Koreans distributed them is sufficient proof of bad behavior.

“I never really saw the intelligence myself to make an independent judgment,” said Carl Ford, who quit as head of the State Department’s intelligence bureau in 2003 because he challenged the administration’s phony claim, based largely on defectors, that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. The administration’s reluctance to disclose details on North Korea “doesn’t pass the smell test,” he said.

In May 2007, the Swiss federal criminal police, which is on the lookout for counterfeit currency and has worked closely with U.S. financial authorities, called on Washington to present more evidence. The Bundeskriminalpolizei said it doubted that North Korea was behind the supernotes.

“Using its printing presses dating back to the 1970s, North Korea is today printing its own currency in such poor quality that one automatically wonders whether this country would even be in a position to manufacture the high-quality supernotes,’” the Swiss agency reported.

The setting for the counterfeiting charges was the effort to pressure the regime of Kim Jong-il to abandon its nuclear weapons programs.

Washington accused a tiny bank in the Chinese enclave of Macau of helping North Korea launder counterfeit notes. The U.S. Treasury blacklisted the Banco Delta Asia and issued a ruling in March 2007 that effectively shut the bank down and froze $25 million in North Korean funds.

When the U.S. relented, Macau lifted its sanctions against the bank and allowed the bank to transfer $25 million back to North Korea, although the Treasury Department, citing “intelligence,” maintains the bank’s blacklisting.

Meanwhile, the Bush administration is no longer publicly accusing North Korea of producing the supernotes and has dropped the subject from talks on halting North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, according to State Department officials.

McClatchy obtained an audit by the international accounting firm Ernst & Young on behalf of the Macau government that indicated only a single case of counterfeit notes was found at Banco Delta Asia. This was in 1994, when the bank found the notes and alerted authorities. And those fakes did not originate in North Korea.

The details

Banks around the world are still seizing supernotes. The first one was spotted by a sharp-eyed banker in the Philippines in 1989.

Since then, about $50 million worth have been found. “The seizures are not necessarily indicative of the amount in circulation,” noted Bolton, who accuses the Bush administration of going soft on North Korea.

The oddities do not stop there. Whoever is making them seemed to deliberately add minuscule extra strokes, as if trying to flag the phony bills, the Swiss noted. For example, at the very tip of the steeple of Philadelphia’s Independence Hall, the counterfeit bills have a line along the left vertical edge that is not on the real bills.

One other interesting difference: The fakes lack microscopic ink splotches that appear on real U.S. currency, which is made in large press runs and stacked one sheet on another.

The ink’s maker, a Swiss firm named Sicpa, mixes the ink at a secure U.S. government facility. The highly specialized and regulated tint also is used on the space shuttle’s windows. A Sicpa spokeswoman declined to discuss the supernotes, but offered an important fact: “We ceased all OVI deliveries (to North Korea) in early 2001, and later in the year all security ink supplies.”

Ferguson, who ran the Bureau of Engraving and Printing from 1998 to 2005, said: “They are not using somebody else’s paper or bleaching the ink off of genuine notes. Someone specifically made paper, which is a pretty big commitment.”

The supernotes incorporate at least 19 running changes that the United States has made to its engraving plates since 1989, from the names of Treasury secretaries and treasurers to blowing up the image of Ben Franklin on the $100 — something that most counterfeiters can’t or don’t bother to do.

In 1996, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing redesigned the $100 bill, adding security features and an off-center, larger Franklin portrait. In less than a year, new supernotes appeared.

“It goes way beyond what normal counterfeiters are able to do,” said Bender, whose book first spotlighted the improbability of North Korean supernotes. “And it is so elaborate it doesn’t pay for the counterfeiting anymore.”

Source: The Kansas City Star


Megachurch Megamoney Hypocrisy

The New Testament reports that Jesus rarely used fancy modes of transportation to get around. He walked most of the time, although Matthew and other gospels mention that he once rode a borrowed donkey into Jerusalem, where he burst into the Temple and tossed out the money changers.

Nearly 2,000 years later, some who claim to speak in Jesus' name are taking a different view. Consider Bishop Eddie Long, who pastors a megachurch in Lithonia, Ga. With a salary approaching $1 million a year and a nine-bathroom mansion situated on 20 acres, Long's choice of vehicles reflects his opulent lifestyle: He drives a $350,000 Bentley.

Far from casting out money changers, Long is likely to join them. In a 2005 profile in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, he defended his high-flying ways, insisting, "I pastor a multimillion dollar congregation. You've got to put me on a different scale than the little black preacher sitting over there that's supposed to be just getting by because the people are suffering."

Long's lack of humility has probably done him no favors. At the time, U.S. Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), expressed dismay.

"When I hear about leaders of charities being provided a $300,000 Bentley to drive around in, my fear is that it's the taxpayers who subsidize this charity who are really being taken for a ride," he quipped.

In November, Grassley, who serves as ranking minority member on the Senate Finance Committee, ramped things up a bit. He announced that he is seeking detailed financial information from six mega-ministries, Long's among them.

The move sent shock waves through the evangelical community. Grassley is a conservative Republican whose votes on social issues usually please the Religious Right. (His 2006 rating from the Family Research Council was 87 percent.) But the senator has long had an interest in preserving the integrity of the tax laws and has in the past complained about secular non-profits violating the law.

In 2005-06, Grassley held a series of hearings on Capitol Hill that included testimony from large non-profit groups such as the Smithsonian Institution and the Red Cross. Now he's turning his sights to the religious sector.

Grassley's investigation focuses on six ministries, all of which preach the "prosperity gospel" -- the theological assertion that wealth is a reward from God:

    * Benny Hinn, a TV preacher who runs the World Healing Center Church in Grapevine, Texas. Hinn, who travels the globe conducting faith-healing revivals, lives in a seven-bathroom, eight-bedroom mansion overlooking the Pacific Ocean valued at $10 million. It is claimed as a parsonage.

    * The Rev. Creflo Dollar's World Changers Church International in College Park, Ga. Dollar drives a Rolls Royce and has large homes in Georgia and New York. He is asked to provide a list of all vehicles provided for himself, his wife, board members and ministry employees.

    * Paula and Randy White's Without Walls International Church in Tampa, Fla. In a letter to the ministry, Grassley asks the couple to provide a list of expense account items "including, but not limited to, clothing expenses and any cosmetic surgery for years 2004 to present."

    * Joyce Meyer Ministries in Fenton, Mo. Grassley asks Meyer and her husband David to explain expenditures like a $23,000 commode with a marble top, a $30,000 conference table, an $11,000 French clock and a $19,000 pair of vases for the ministry headquarters.

    * Kenneth Copeland Ministries in Newark, Texas. Copeland is asked to explain how cash offerings are handled during overseas crusades and to explain the use of a ministry jet for "layovers" in Maui, Fiji and Honolulu.

    * Long's New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia, Ga. Among other things, Long is asked to explain a church official's 2005 claim that Long no longer accepts a salary from the church but does take a "love offering."

In each case, Grassley is requesting detailed financial information. The ministries are asked to provide audited financial statements, lists of board members, employment contracts and other information.

Other requests are specific to certain ministries. It has been widely reported, for example, that Hinn often uses a ministry jet to travel to the crusades he holds. This jet often stops along the way for "layovers" at popular vacation spots.

Grassley asks Hinn to provide "a list of all layover trips taken in years 2001 to present" as well as "the number of ministry personnel who stayed during the layover (including name and addresses), the hotel name(s), the lodging costs, the food costs, salary expenses, aircraft costs, and all other layover expenses paid [by the ministry]."

Reacting to reports that David and Joyce Meyer have received gifts of cash and jewelry from donors, Grassley asks the ministry to explain its procedures for handling these gifts and a statement "indicating whether these gifts have been included in the income reported to the Internal Revenue Service for David Meyer and Joyce Meyer for years 2004 through 2006."

What led Grassley to take this step? The Iowa Republican told Church & State that he considers such oversight part of the Senate's responsibility.

"I started a broad-based review of these tax laws after 9-11 when questions were raised about how the American Red Cross used donations made to help victims and their families recover from the terrorist attacks," Grassley said. "Since then I've looked at a wide range of issues, including non-profit tax structures, land conservation, fine art donations, and nonprofit hospitals. This fall I expanded my review to include media-based ministries."

Continued Grassley, "The six ministries that received letters from me were chosen based upon reported allegations of wrongdoing reported by investigative journalists and brought to my attention by interested third parties, sometimes acting as whistleblowers. Some of the accounts were disturbing because of the lack of transparency regarding how these ministries spend millions of dollars, and as an industry, billions of dollars that have been exempt from federal tax."

The ministries were generally cagey in their replies. Hinn said he had referred the matter to his attorneys, an approach that Dollar, the Whites and Meyer also took. Copeland refused to talk to the media. Some also began complaining of government interference.

"Are we saying the First Amendment is null and void by allowing this to happen?" Dollar asked in the Journal-Constitution.

Long, in brief remarks before his congregation Nov. 11, called the Grassley request "an attack on our religious freedom and privacy rights."

Grassley says his inquiry is well within the scope of the law.

"My inquiry has nothing to do with doctrine," he said. "Rather it's about tax law. Is the tax exemption being used according to the law, and is the money that's donated under the tax exemption being used for non-profit purposes?

"It's not an attack on ministries in particular or tax-exempt groups in general," he continued. "The strong majority of non-profit groups, including churches, operate above-board and perform good works that make their tax exemption a bargain for the American people. Allegations have been raised about some ministries, and my inquiry gives them an opportunity to respond to those allegations."

On Dec. 6, the day of the deadline, Grassley's office reported that information had been received from Copeland and Meyer. Attorneys for the Whites indicated that they would contact Grassley's office shortly but gave no indication if they planned to comply. Long indicated he would comply but did not meet the deadline. Hinn requested more time.

Dollar was the only minister to openly defy the request for information. According to media accounts, Dollar's attorneys sent Grassley a letter telling him to either refer the matter to the IRS or issue a subpoena.

The ministries being investigated may have added to their problems by being secretive about their finances. None belong to the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability, a voluntary oversight group that many Christian groups choose to join. They are not required to file financial documents like other non-profit groups nor make any financial information public.

Perhaps feeling some heat, Dollar prepared a brief financial statement that he showed to the Journal-Constitution. The document indicated that the church brought in $69 million in 2006. It did not list Dollar's salary, and he insisted he no longer accepts one from the church.

Dollar, who in the past has argued that Jesus was wealthy, also posted a statement on his ministry's Web site. The statement tells church members that they can see a financial report but treats the document like it's a state secret. Furthermore, the process is not exactly user friendly or convenient.

"Members of World Changers Church International can request to review the church's audited financial statements by contacting the ministry at 770-210-5700," reads the Web site. "Please be ready to give your name, member number, and phone number. Once your information has been verified you will be contacted to schedule an appointment to meet with a member of our accounting staff. Once the appointment is made, be prepared to present your photo I.D. for verification when you come."

The statement goes on to say that the statement can be viewed on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday from 10 a.m. until 11:30 a.m. and from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. and that only last year's statement is available.

Meyer is taking a more proactive approach. Her ministry's Web site contains a section titled "Financial Transparency" that links to a lengthy annual report that concludes with a financial statement.

Says Meyer on the site, "Each year we conduct an independent financial and legal audit. This information, as well as our annual reports for 2003 through 2006, is available on our website. We encourage you to take a look."

On Nov. 28, Meyer's ministry issued a press release pledging to provide "the requested documents for presentation to the senator's office - on time (by December 6, 2007) and in full detail."

The press release also includes a fact sheet responding to specific points raised in Grassley's letter. It asserts, for example, that the $23,000 price tag for the commode (an antique chest of drawers, not a toilet) was an error from the furniture seller. The item, the Meyer ministry says, was purchased along with 67 other pieces of furniture for a total cost of $261,498.21.

But critics say self-generated financial statements are often of limited value. Ole Anthony, head of the Texas-based Trinity Foundation, an evangelical group that for years has spoken out against the excesses of television evangelists, told Church & State that these statements do not guarantee accountability.

"The public has no idea," Anthony said. "The ministries say we have an audited financial statement. But it's a very friendly auditor." In the case of many mega-ministries, Anthony said, church accounting is "woefully lacking."

Added Anthony, "I wish the legitimate church would demand that there be some accountability. These [megachurch] organizations, for the most part their accountability is a relative or just yes men - and if anyone disagrees with them, they're touching the anointed of God or some other B.S."

The legality of Grassley's overture has sparked a spirited debate. Experts at Americans United for Separation of Church and State note that tax-exempt status is granted with the understanding that organizations will work for the public good, not to enrich individuals. Since investigating allegations of fraud should not require the government to make theological judgments, AU attorneys say, mere requests for information are unlikely to be considered a violation of the First Amendment.

Douglas Laycock, an expert on church-state relations who teaches at the University of Michigan Law School, said tax exemption does not mean that religious groups surrender their constitutional rights. But, he added, government must have the power to investigate allegations of fraud.

"As I understand it, the allegations here are that money is being diverted from the exempt charitable purpose to the personal benefit of individuals," Laycock told Church & State. "That is simply tax fraud, if done knowingly. The government has to be able to police that; otherwise, tax exemptions would be so easily abused it couldn't grant them to anybody."

Concluded Laycock, "I have no idea whether the allegations are true in these cases, but the government has to be able to investigate enough to find out."

Other observers note that secular non-profits are closely monitored to make certain they do not violate the law and that religious groups should not expect a free ride.

"There is no free exercise right to tax exemption, and the First Amendment doesn't shield religious organizations from government scrutiny to make sure the tax laws are being complied with," said J. Brent Walker, executive director of the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty.

Walker added, "That said, I would expect that Sen. Grassley and the committee will proceed carefully with an eye toward potential church autonomy rights and religious freedom issues that could be implicated."

Many evangelical religious broadcasters are watching developments with some unease.

"[W]hen I see a senator charging into organizations, wielding this kind of budget ax and laying bare religious figures and expenditures, huge constitutional questions are being raised," said Gary McCaleb, senior counsel at the Alliance Defense Fund, a large, well-funded Religious Right legal group founded by wealthy religious broadcasters.

Although none of the targeted ministries is a member of the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB), the organization sent a letter to Grassley asserting that the probe may be unconstitutional.

The NRB, which is composed of many fundamentalist-oriented non-profit and for-profit entities, issued a press release quoting Craig Parshall, its general counsel, who said Grassley's "overly broad" approach uses "an axe rather than a scalpel."

"We hope this is not a prelude to congressional hearings and possible legislation that would erode the cherished protections that religious ministries enjoy under the First Amendment," Parshall added.

If the ministries are determined to have violated the law, the penalties can be severe. Not only could these groups lose their tax-exempt status, but they could also be fined or their leaders held liable.

The directors of some secular non-profits have learned the hard way that it doesn't pay to violate federal tax law. In 1995, the former head of United Way, William Aramony, was found guilty of using charity funds to finance personal overseas trips and affairs with young women. He was sentenced to seven years in prison.

In 2004, Oral Suer, chairman of the United Way of Washington, D.C., was sentenced to 27 months in prison after he was found guilty of receiving excessive pension payments, misusing leave to boost his salary and billing private travel and personal expenses to the charity.

No one is suggesting that the ministers could end up in jail. And if Grassley proceeds with the investigation, he may have to navigate some treacherous waters. A 1984 law requires the Internal Revenue Service to meet several conditions before a church can be audited. A regional IRS commissioner must approve the inquiry, and the church must be given the option of a pre-examination meeting with the IRS, among other conditions.

But two wrinkles in the law may cut in Grassley's favor: Some of these ministries may not meet the IRS's definition of a church, and the law does not apply in cases of criminal investigations.

What's likely to happen next? The Senate Finance Committee has subpoena power, and as long as Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) agrees, officials with the ministries could be summoned to testify under oath.

Grassley told Church & State that his staff will review the documents, look for possible violations and forward relevant material to "the appropriate enforcement agency."

He added, "This committee staff also will consider whether any of the organizations have taken actions that may go against the spirit and intent of the law. It's often the case that such investigations yield actions that are perfectly legal but shock the conscience and thereby highlight shortcomings in current law or in the enforcement of that law. That said, it's also been my experience more often than not that public scrutiny leads to necessary and credible self correction."

If the investigation deepens, the Trinity Foundation's Anthony is hoping it becomes an opportunity for changing the status quo. He said his group supports laws similar to those in England, where any claim made over the air for the purpose of raising money must be verifiable.

Anthony also said he regrets that Congress has had to get involved. He'd prefer that other religious leaders would counter the "prosperity" TV preachers and mega-evangelists who use their positions to finance extravagant lifestyles.

"For 20 years I've been hoping that the leaders of the legitimate church would stand up and say, 'this is enough,' but they haven't," Anthony said. "It breaks my heart that we have to do this but no one else will."

Source: Alternet


CDC to Investigate Morgellons Mystery

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced today that it is launching a study to learn about an unexplained condition that causes people to feel as if they have foreign substances growing from their bodies.

People with the condition, referred to as Morgellons disease, say they have fibers and other inorganic material growing out of their skin.

"We earnestly want to learn more about this unexplained illness, which affects the lives of those who suffer from it," said Dr. Michele Pearson, principal investigator leading the study for the CDC, in a press release. "Those who suffer have questions, and we want to help them."

"We have a team of epidemiologists, laboratorians and pathologists to carry out the study," Pearson said.

The study will be conducted in conjunction with Kaiser Permanente's Northern California Division of Research. For more information, CLICK HERE to visit the CDC's Unexplained Dermopathy Web site.

Watch the story tonight on "Nightline" at 11:35 p.m. ET and "Good Morning America" Thursday at 7 a.m.

In 2006, a number of Morgellons sufferers told ABC News in interviews that when they consulted doctors, they received diagnoses they called wrong or dismissive. Brandi Koch, the wife of former Major League Baseball player Billy Koch, said that she felt as if she were living in a horror movie, claiming she had colored fibers coming out of her skin.

Koch, of Clearwater Beach, Fla., said that her life was good until one day in the shower when she noticed something strange -- tiny fibers running through her skin.

"The fibers look like hair, and they're different colors," Koch said.

Koch said she knows that what she experienced "sounds crazy," but it's true. "If I had a family member call me up and say, 'I have this stuff,' I'd say, 'I'm sending a straitjacket over. You need some help,'" she said.

Anne Dill described a similar condition. Looking at Dill's life in Florida, she seemed to be living the American dream -- her three daughters excelled in sports and were straight-A students.

But life in the Dill household was far from idyllic. Anne's 40-year-old husband, Tom, died in January 2006, and she believes his death was due to a contagious illness that has infected her entire family.

Dill described her family's skin: "There's this fibrous material. It's in layers." Dill said the skin on their hands was particularly bad, very swollen and itchy, and said it felt as if bugs were crawling underneath the skin.

Dr. Greg Smith of Gainesville, Ga., has been a pediatrician for the past 30 years. He claimed that a fiber was coming out of his big toe, and he had video footage to prove it.

"It felt like somebody stuck a pin in my toe and wiggled it, and it just continued to hurt," Smith told ABC News in 2006.

He said he never thought he had bugs. "I've certainly had those crawling sensations, and the fibers which come out of the skin are really bizarre, and really odd."

Smith was handed over to a hospital psychiatrist when he went to the emergency room complaining of a fiber in his eye. He admits that he, too, would be skeptical if a patient came to him with the same story.

"I would wonder if they'd taken their medicine that day. It makes no sense. It's totally bizarre. It's something that -- just telling the story is so outlandish on the face of it -- that no one would believe it," Smith said. Dill's doctor told her to stop scratching, even though many of her sores were in places she could not reach.

Koch went to the Mayo Clinic, where doctors didn't believe that the fibers she'd brought them had grown from her body.

"I saw the infectious disease doctor, and I showed him some samples that I had and he snickered," she said. "I can't go through another doctor blowing me off or looking at me like I'm crazy. I know I'm not."

Dr. Vincent DeLeo, chief of dermatology at New York's St. Lukes-Roosevelt Medical Center, weighed in on what he'd say to someone who came to him with this condition. "I don't think this is any different than many patients I've seen who have excoriations and believe that there is something in their skin causing this," he told ABC News in 2006.

DeLeo said the open lesions were most likely a result of scratching the skin.

But biologist Mary Leitao refused to accept the medical skepticism surrounding Morgellons. Leitao's son, Drew, was just 2 years old when Leitao noticed an odd sore on his lip that would not heal.

"He very simply said 'bugs,' and he pointed to his lips," said Leitao.

Leitao never expected to find herself at the center of a medical storm. But when her son complained about the strange sore, the biologist, who once ran the electron microscope at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, did what any scientist would do. She took a closer look.

"What I saw were bundles of fibers, balls of fibers," Leitao says. "There was red and blue." Even stranger, they glowed under ultraviolet light.

Armed with research, Leitao took her son to a doctor at one of the country's leading hospitals. He dismissed her tale of fibers and wrote to her pediatrician, saying that her son needed Vaseline for his lips and that his mother needed a thorough psychiatric evaluation.

Undaunted, Leitao began poring through medical literature looking for clues. What she discovered was a 17th-century reference to a strange disease with "harsh hairs" called "Morgellons."

She named the strange fibers Morgellons disease and put the information on a Web site, At the time of her interview in 2006, more than 4,500 people had contacted Leitao, claiming they had Morgellons-type symptoms. The name stuck, and the disease was featured on the television show "ER."

But do these fibers grow from inside the body, as Morgellons patients believe, or do they come from the external environment -- a kind of lint -- as the medical skeptics say?

Forensic scientist Ron Pogue at the Tulsa Police Crime Lab in Oklahoma checked a Morgellons sample against known fibers in the FBI's national database. "No, no match at all. So this is some strange stuff," Pogue said in 2006. He thought the skeptics were wrong. "This isn't lint. This is not a commercial fiber. It's not."

The lab's director, Mark Boese, said the fibers are "consistent with something that the body may be producing." He added that, "These fibers cannot be manmade and do not come from a plant. This could be a byproduct of a biological organism."

Dill said she looks at pictures of her family and finds them unrecognizable. "My kids have to see not only their dad but their mom disintegrating, and that's gotta be really scary."

While they wait for evidence that they hope will convince the medical community to take them seriously, some Morgellon's sufferers wear pink bracelets that say, simply, "Fortitude."

Source: ABC News


South Pole Skier Says ETs Being Processed in Antarctica

Earlier this season, Irish Kevin Dempsey skied the last degree with an ALE team to the SP as a follow up to last year’s trip during which he had to withdraw after a dramatic accident with a Jagged Globe team on Vinson. After being trapped for days on the headwall, Kevin thought he'd seen it all. Not so.

Kevin's South Pole story might sound incredible to some, but it should be noted that while ExplorersWeb has previously covered the Amanda telescope; our recent request for a follow up story about the Ice Cube has been met with silence.

It was the unidentified flying object at Antarctica (later claimed by Airbus) and its runway paved by laser that prompted Kevin to alert the international community to a dispatch he posted over Contact 4.0 at his arrival on the Pole, January 6 this year.

"I’ve just read the reports about the ‘plane’ overflying," Kevin wrote to ExplorersWeb last week. "I’m glad to hear about this because it just adds more credibility to my revelation about what’s really going on down there..!"

"One of the radio stations that I did an interview with it, ran with it in a ‘light hearted’ way during the interview & got some weird phone calls & text messages after it went out," Kevin notes.

The Ice Cube 'telescope' consists of numerous glass bubbles buried deep in Antarctica's ice in an intricate cube formation. The scientists argue that the bubbles, with Earth as a giant filter, help find mysterious blue sparks that originate from the birth of outer space.

In his dispatch over Contact 4.0 headlined 36 hours (at the Pole), Kevin reports his own, contradictory findings.

The Truth Behind The Facade Of The ICE-CUBE Project
By Kevin Dempsey, South Pole Sun 6 Jan 2008

"After our sprint to the South Pole from the 89th degree we then decided to stay up & awake for over 24 hrs to enjoy the limited time we were to have at 90 South. Considering the time difference between our Chilean time we were on & the New Zealand time that the A-S station operates on, staying up was the only way we could get involved in the extensive tours that were going on Open Day in their 'day time'."

"Whilst this left us exhausted physically & mentally exhausted but not enough so to be blinded by the scam or cover up as to what was really going on with the so called Ice-Cube project."

"I'm very aware that by going public with this disclosure I am risking the lives of not just myself & Lance but also those of our expedition team mates, our families & possibly a lot more people."

"But at the same time, once this story is out in the public domain & particularly in the USA from where it's being funded, eliminating us is only going to confirm everything as being accurate."

"Myself & Lance began to have some concerns"

"It's a big gamble calling this bluff but if they come to get me, I'm ready. I was watching Die Hard 4.0 last night & that bloke Bruce Willis is 50 yrs old & if he can do all he did & kill off about 40 people in a day or so then I reckon I can do at least as well.

"If not, then I will have to use my secret like hell!. I'd definitely do better than Bruce because he's a bit on the chubby side & so he'd be a bit slower running than me."

"Myself & Lance began to have some concerns at about the same time & I recall just casually dropping my theory on him & I knew by the way he reacted that he wasn't dismissing the possibility. As we talked about it more, the more it seemed plausible."

"We then bounced the idea off Armand & being an Information Analyst who is used to dealing in real numbers etc he initially didn't take to the idea. But the more we talked about it the more the barriers to his doubts came crumbling down. We were now the Gang of Three."

"We just nodded in agreement to their answers"

"We considered bringing Stefan in on our thinking but then decided that maybe he just wasn't ready for this yet plus we had noticed a change in him over the previous 24 hrs & we wondered just whose side he may be on."

"As for Tim our guide, there was never any question of bringing him into the loop. He was with ALE & for all we knew they could also be part of the greater plot. No. Tim had to be kept out & from now on we'd be watching him closely."

"We threw a few trick questions out to a couple of the scientists & their totally implausible answers only added to our concerns. We didn't pursue these any further for fear of raising their suspicions as to why we were asking such questions. We just nodded in agreement to their answers & carried on."

'Imagination is more important than knowledge' (A. Einstein)

"Later myself, Lance & Armand met up to discuss the issue further & whilst it can be said that we have very fertile imaginations we believe that it is this very quality that enabled us to see beyond the facade that is Ice-Cube & look deeper into the real world."

"So what is really going on down there?"

"Think about this first: If you were just carrying out the so called scientific work they day is being carried out, why would you go to all the expense & trouble of doing in such a hostile & distant place as Antarctica. They could carry out this work for a fraction of the cost anywhere else on the planet. They could go to the Moon for less money than is being spent down there."

"Now think about this: If you wanted to carry out some really top secret work or experiments, where would you do it? You wouldn't do it in the middle of a bog in the west of Ireland, deep in the Alps, in the middle of the Sahara Desert, in Northern Siberia or even in Nevada."

In Antarctica you could pretty much get away with anything

"Why? Because 1000's, even millions of people pass through these places all year round, every year. Therefore the risk of someone finding out the truth would be very high."

"But in Antarctica... now you're beginning to see it aren't you?..... you could pretty much get away with anything. Why?"

"Because only a handful of people visit every year & the season for visiting is only a short period of 12 - 14 weeks, which means that for the remaining 40 weeks of the year, no one goes there, therefore you could whatever you wanted. It is the optimum place on the planet to carry out whatever secret experiments or activities you want to do."

"The polar expedition teams such as ours all arrive at the South Pole within a short 4/5 week period of one another & in total only number about 30 people, so the risk of exposure is very low, especially when most arriving teams are mentally exhausted & then gone again within 2 days."

"They don't want anyone to find out about it"

"Why else would they build a new 'space age' type station that according to their figures cost $160m to construct. On top of this they acknowledge that they are spending $276m on the so called Ice-Cube project alone. From what we saw the total spend down there was a hundred times that. So it clearly has to be something so important & huge in scale that they don't want anyone to find out about it."

"I can now tell you that the so called Ice-Cube project is in fact the first of a new generation of ARC, as we believe it is now as internally. Think ARC, think Noah. But not in the same way. Noah used his arc to save all life forms from extinction. This new ARC is in a way a reversal of that process."

"ARC stands for..... ALIEN RECEPTOR CENTRE."

"We adjusted our watches to their time zone"

"They are bringing aliens in from outer space & other galaxies, processing & programming them for eventual release into countries, societies, cultures all over the planet, that they ultimately want to control. This is not a simple war on the battle for control of oil. This is total & ultimate control of the planet. And you heard it here & from me first."

"During our stay there we decided to do a little deep investigation & have a good look around the Ice Cube complex. It was obviously going to be better to do this when most of the staff were sleeping & when there would only be a few security or maintenance people on site."

"We adjusted our watches to their time zone & waited til night time & cover of darkness to slip out of our tents & carry out this very dangerous surveillance."

"That night after lying in our tents for about 8 hrs we realised where we were & remembered that there was 24 hr daylight here...!! .... that put paid to our creeping around unnoticed. Back to Plan A."

"Why the rush to get rid of us?"

"We looked at the plans for Ice Cube & it became very obvious that the 2500mt deep bore holes all led down to a vast processing plant deep under the ice. Down there they could carry out whatever 'processing' was required before eventually shipping the clones out to the various sub centres & probably all over the world."

"We didn't have much time for any further investigations because we were suddenly told that our airlift plane would be arriving within 2.5 hrs. This was odd because it takes 6 hrs from the decision to take off from Patriot to arrive at the Pole."

"So why not give us the normal 6 hrs notice? Was the plane there waiting all the time? Why the rush to get rid of us?"

Can of Coke against the rules?

"It was also odd that Tim insisted on 'escorting' (his choice of word, not mine) Armand to the Station when Armand said he need to go & buy some simple gifts he had forgotten about. Were they afraid Armand might see something he shouldn't? Were they afraid he might get to talk to someone they wouldn't want him talking to?"

"Tim said he didn't want Armand trying to buy a can of Coke which was against the rules! Yeah right!.... give us a break. Do you think we're idiots & can't see the reality of what's going on? Well you can shove it where ever, because we just wanted out of there."

"Stefan then went missing for a few hours while out on his own supposedly taking more photos. When we next saw him, the pupils in his eyes were dilated down to the size of pin heads & he was in a bit of a daze. Where had he been? What happened to him? Had he been taken for initial processing?"

Stefan just stared

"After this myself, Lance & Armand kept our heads down & stuck together until take off time. Stefan wanted to stay a few more days!! ....but after a while we managed to get him on the plane & for the full 5.5 hrs back to Patriot he just stared, transfixed out the window. He was beginning to freak us out. Fortunately, by the time we got back to Punta Arenas in Sth America a few days later he was OK."

"How many aliens are being processed?"

"We have no idea but it has to be a big number because the entire project couldn't be justified just for a few thousand. Plus a few thousand wouldn't make much of an impact in any society in terms of having political, economic & social influence. Then allow for an element of loss or wastage occurring due to malfunctioning clones. This has to be high because all of this is very new technology."

"We factored in for a 50% loss."

War on Terror a smokescreen

Then consider how many you'd need to have any real influence in even one country or economic zone. Millions & millions, of that you can be sure & by now there could, at a very conservative estimate, be 10 - 20% of the population in some zones, under the influence of the powers behind this plan for ultimate control. Who knows? Will we ever know?"

"Forget the War on Terror. That's only a smokescreen. This is the real Final Solution."

"If you saw what we saw"

"So there you have it. You're probably sitting there reading this & thinking that I've finally lost the plot & gone over the edge. I can't say I blame you but if you saw what we saw & had looked deep into the eyes of the 'people' like we did, then you'd change your view."

"Think about it. Why should it not be true? We don't claim to have all the answers & we may not even be the first people to disclose this story. That scares us a bit but we feel we have a duty to everyone on this planet to do something."

"I don't know whether the 1.5 billion Chinese living in absolute poverty care, but at least they can now make a conscious decision to care or not. They might have more urgent & immediate things to be thinking about but they should at least be informed.

Anyway, I've got to finish up now. I've got hours of two of my favourite TV programmes to watch. Sky TV are showing the full last series of 'Lost' & '24' tonight. Great stuff & so realistic. Or have I just 'Lost' the plot completely after staying up for over '24' hours whilst at the Pole?

Good Bye from the Dark Zone, Kevin, Sun 6 Jan 2008

Ed: It has to be noted that Kevin has nothing to gain in revealing his findings about the Ice Cube. Dempsey is not a scientist; his emails carry advertisements for stylish blinds and rugs. 



Psychic Powers in Demand in Lebanon

On Friday, while working in Beirut's southern suburbs, I met a fortune teller who invited me back to his home for a reading.

As an American journalist in the Middle East, I naturally wanted to know if I would die from a terrorist attack or get killed by an Israeli air raid in the foreseeable future. But apparently, fate holds worse things in store for me. "All your problems will come from money and women," Sheik Fayez Al Aboud told me, after determining the numerical value of my mother's name and my own and then running them through some kind of magical moon formula. "And don't eat beef," he added.

hayek_feature_full.jpgPerhaps because of its religious pluralism, or its popular television talk shows, or the feeling of impending doom that hangs over the country, Lebanon does a brisk business in the supernatural. Every New Year's, Lebanon's celebrity psychics like Michael Hayek make predictions about the country's political future, and then jump on jet planes to visit wealthy clients in the Gulf and Europe. But Lebanon is also filled with an entire class system of psychics, from salon soothsayers frequented by ladies who lunch to street corner mystics who serve as a one-stop medical and mental health care providers in humble neighborhoods.

There's probably no way of verifying how many Lebanese visit psychics regularly, but the number is surely large. (Sheik Fayez said he thought it was about 85 percent of the population). Magic and belief in the supernatural are woven into daily life in Lebanon in all kinds of ways: from housewives who stick pins in brooms to keep unpleasant houseguests from returning to the bumper-stickers intended to ward off bad luck on the highways.

The basic concern of those inclined to see the supernatural at work is the evil eye, cast upon a victim either knowingly by someone with magical skills (those with blue eyes are especially good at putting out hexes), or unintentionally by an envious friend or rival. Many of Sheik Fayez's clients come to him for help removing such curses. He said he can tell right away whether someone is under a magic spell or just mentally unstable. "They hesitate at the door, as if some kind of force is preventing them from entering," he said. The Sheik's other services include help making business decisions, curing unknown diseases, advice on matters of the heart and the bedroom, and for help finding buried treasure. Usually, numerical divinations and choice bits of Koranic scripture are enough to realign the universe. Though he is Muslim, the Sheik said that regular religious practice -- be it Muslim or Christian -- is the best thing that anyone can do to ward off evil.

However, a little prayer and scripture may not be enough to prevent major mojo from wreaking havoc in Lebanon and the world in coming years. Before I left, the Sheik predicted that pollution and rising flood waters would begin to take their toll. Perhaps he and Al Gore are looking into the same crystal ball.

Source:Ya Libnan/Andrew Lee Butters


Experts Identify "Mona Lisa"

German academics believe they have solved the centuries-old mystery behind the identity of the "Mona Lisa" in Leonardo da Vinci's famous portrait.

Lisa Gherardini, the wife of a wealthy Florentine merchant, Francesco del Giocondo, has long been seen as the most likely model for the sixteenth-century painting.

But art historians have often wondered whether the smiling woman may actually have been da Vinci's lover, his mother or the artist himself.

Now experts at the Heidelberg University library say dated notes scribbled in the margins of a book by its owner in October 1503 confirm once and for all that Lisa del Giocondo was indeed the model for one of the most famous portraits in the world.

"All doubts about the identity of the Mona Lisa have been eliminated by a discovery by Dr. Armin Schlechter," a manuscript expert, the library said in a statement on Monday.

Until then, only "scant evidence" from sixteenth-century documents had been available. "This left lots of room for interpretation and there were many different identities put forward," the library said.

The notes were made by a Florentine city official Agostino Vespucci, an acquaintance of the artist, in a collection of letters by the Roman orator Cicero.

The comments compare Leonardo to the ancient Greek artist Apelles and say he was working on three paintings at the time, one of them a portrait of Lisa del Giocondo.

Art experts, who have already dated the painting to this time, say the Heidelberg discovery is a breakthrough and the earliest mention linking the merchant's wife to the portrait.

"There is no reason for any lingering doubts that this is another woman," Leipzig University art historian Frank Zoellner told German radio. "One could even say that books written about all this in the past few years were unnecessary, had we known."

The woman was first linked to the painting in around 1550 by Italian official Giorgio Vasari, the library said, but added there had been doubts about Vasari's reliability and had made the comments five decades after the portrait had been painted.

The Heidelberg notes were actually discovered over two years ago in the library by Schlechter, a spokeswoman said.

Although the findings had been printed in the library's public catalogue they had not been widely publicized and had been received little attention until a German broadcaster decided to do some recording at the library, she said.

The painting, which hangs in the Louvre in Paris, is also known as "La Gioconda" meaning the happy or joyful woman in Italian, a title which also suggests the woman's married name.

Source: The Globe and Mail


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