News From Around The Blogosphere 3.12.10

March 13, 2010

1. Texas school board pushing Conservative and Christian spin on American history – Who’s pushing it? Why it”s the recently voted out creationist Don McLeroy. Essentially, they feel that American history is too liberal and atheist, so therefore, students should be taught about all those times Conservatism won out. That should be easy, right? Slavery? No. Keeping evolution out of schools? No. Black suffrage? No. Women’s suffrage? No. Segregation? No. Abortion? No. I guess they want a class to teach about the Great Depression that followed 12 years of conservative presidents, the early 90’s recession that followed 12 years of conservative presidents, the current economic crisis that followed 8 years of conservative rule, and of course Watergate.

2. A Winnipeg man, Rob Johnstone, struggles to find non-religious alcohol rehab program – I don’t understand why everyone’s always whining that AA is religious. Just because a group of people congregate in a church to kneel before god, pray to that god for strength, confess their sins, and acknowledge that they’re sinners by nature and thus powerless to change their sinful ways–that’s no reason to accuse AA of being a religion.

3. ‘Under God’ sustained in Pledge by Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals – By a final vote of 2-1, Michael Newdow lost again to get the ‘Under God’ removed from the Pledge of Allegiance. That’s a very small amount to lose by though. At least someone in that decision was persuaded so that leaves room to be hopeful that we may prevail in the near future. Here’s the decision (PDF). Newdow’s next step is to ask the appeals court to rehear the case. If that’s rejected he says he’ll appeal to the Supreme Court.”

4. Ancient DNA found in fossil bird egg shell –

“We were really surprised to discover that ancient DNA is well-preserved in fossil eggshells, particularly the heaviest bird to have existed the elephant bird called Aepyornis, which is now extinct,” said Murdoch doctoral student Charlotte Oskam, who undertook the research.

5. Scientists discover 600 million-year-old origins of vision

By studying the hydra, a member of an ancient group of sea creatures that is still flourishing, scientists at UC Santa Barbara have made a discovery in understanding the origins of human vision.

. . .

Hydra are simple animals that, along with jellyfish, belong to the phylum cnidaria. Cnidarians first emerged 600 million years ago.

“We determined which genetic ‘gateway,’ or ion channel, in the hydra is involved in light sensitivity,” said senior author Todd H. Oakley, assistant professor in UCSB’s Department of Ecology, Evolution and Marine Biology. “This is the same gateway that is used in human vision.”

There once again goes the “irreducible complexity” of the eye argument. And of course for those keeping track, that’s 599,994,000 years before the existence of the entire universe, according to Young Earth Creationists.

6. Simon Singh leaves The Guardian

“Being sued for libel is not only ruinously expensive, writes Simon Singh, it takes over your whole life. Which is why this will be his last column”

This is deeply sad. Singh is a fantastic science journalist and we could use people like him more than ever. But it’s inspiring to see him continue to fight for his article exposing chiropractic and for UK libel reform.

7. Surgeon goes into the faith healing business

Dr. Issam Nemeh is a certified surgeon in Cleveland, Ohio but is now using his hands more for praying over people. Numerous medical miracles are being reported by people after visiting and being prayed for by Dr. Nemeh. However, Nemeh refuses to accept the credit for any miracle that takes place with an individual. He says GOD heals people with the Holy Spirit. Nemeh insists he is only an instrument.

Well, we agree on one thing:  he’s a tool.

8. Cancer researchers in British Columbia make lymphoma ‘breakthrough‘ –

The discovery by a team of 26 scientists from throughout North America and Europe shows a new way to predict the 15 to 25 per cent of patients who will have a poor prognosis if they aren’t treated more aggressively from the time of diagnosis.

As Carl Sagan said, science delivers the goods.

9. $cientologists try to censor German film

Bis Nichts Mehr Bleibt, or Until Nothing Remains, dramatises the account of a German family torn apart by its associations with Scientology. A young married couple joins the organisation but as the wife gets sucked ever more deeply into the group, her husband, who has donated much of his money to it, decides to leave. In the process he loses contact with his young daughter who, like his wife, is being educated by Scientology instructors.

Scientology leaders have accused Germany’s primary public TV network, ARD, of creating in top secret a piece of propaganda that sets out to undermine the group, and have demanded to see it before it is broadcast.

Oh, come on! When have the Germans ever been known for making propaganda films? Kidding. I hope the film makes a gazillion dollars.


News From Around The Blogosphere 2.28.10

March 1, 2010

Film not intended for any viewers

1. Grandson of the Mask – A newborn has Jim Carrey for a grandfather. Poor kid doesn’t have a chance. Though hopefully, the kid’s parents are having him properly vaccinated against grandpa’s wishes.

2. 13-year-old escorted out of class by police for not standing for Pledge – It almost makes you want to know what they’d do if she actually committed a crime. And this was after the teacher publicly humiliated the student in class. Fortunately, the Montgomery County, Maryland school backed the student and are forcing the teacher to apologize, which is a far lighter sentence than that teacher deserves. I hope the teacher refuses and gets fired.

3. Fossils of giant plankton-eating fish a hundred million years old – 

An international team describe how new fossils from Asia, Europe and the US reveal a previously unknown dynasty of giant plankton-eating bony fishes that filled the seas of the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods, between 66-172 million years ago.

So for those keeping track, that’s 65,994,000 to 171,994,000 years before the existence of the entire universe, according to Young Earth Creationists.

4. Stem Cells vs. HIV

UCLA AIDS Institute researchers successfully removed CCR5 — a cell receptor to which HIV-1 binds for infection but which the human body does not need — from human cells. Individuals who naturally lack the CCR5 receptor have been found to be essentially resistant to HIV.

Yay science!

5. Mother waiting for resurrection of baby she starved to death – Ria Ramkissoon can continue to wait in prison for her 1-year-old to rise from the dead. Personally though, I wouldn’t bet on it. I blogged about this story last year and how she pleaded guilty to child abuse resulting in death on the condition that if her son, Javon, is resurrected, the plea will be vacated. Not only am I fine with that condition but I think we should worship her as a god if that happens.

Why did the child need to be starved?

Javon Thompson was possessed by an evil spirit, Ramkissoon was told, because he didn’t say ”Amen” during a mealtime prayer. Javon didn’t talk much, given his age, but he had said ”Amen” before, Ramkissoon testified.

My nephew just turned 1 years old and he’s never said Amen…or anything. I guess it’s a good thing Ria Ramkissoon isn’t his mother.

6. India’s ‘untouchables’ declare their own religion – So now there’s a religion specifically for the poor. Might I recommend they open it up to the rich and preach a prosperity gospel and demand that their gods need cash.


News From Around The Blogosphere 11.25.09

November 26, 2009

1. Suicide bomber Barbie – Okay, actually it’s just Barbie in a burqa. This only goes to show that Barbie will never stop keeping women down in society. But I guess at least it’s for a good cause:

Wearing the traditional Islamic dress, the iconic doll is going undercover for a charity auction in connection with Sotheby’s for Save The Children.

2. War on Christmas continues with new athvertisement – And though I really shouldn’t have to say this, of course there’s no such thing as the “War on Christmas.” But it’s fun to play along with Fox News’ little conspiratorial delusion. The American Humanist Association is sponsoring a new nation-wide campaign involving ads with the slogan, “No God? …No problem! Be good for goodness’ sake.” This is the latest variation on a common theme. And despite the fact that it doesn’t say anything negative at all about anyone’s religion, I guarantee that it won’t be long before we hear from outraged Christians who feel personally slighted by the ad.

3. Marietta, Georgia considers dropping “so help me God” from police officer oath – Of course there’s some strange controversy over it. Councilman Van Pearlberg apparently just inquired as to whether it had ever been challenged, which somehow led to the option to remove it being considered. Pearlberg, however, claims he never actually objected to it and thinks it should not be removed, while also saying, “I don’t think anybody should be forced to say anything…I just don’t know what the alternative would be.” Keep it as part of the oath or give people the freedom to say what they want? Which is it? They’re mutually exclusive positions. If what you’re saying is that people should not be required to say it but they can should they be so inclined, then why not just obey the Constitution and remove it while leaving open the option for individuals to unofficially include it should they desire to do so?

4. Matt Barber blames everyone for Will Phillips’ decision except Will Phillips – Matt Barber of the Liberty Counsel, a Religious Right organization, has publicly come out to respond to 10-year-old Will Phillips’ decision to not stand for the Pledge until gay marriage is legalized. Basically, that response is simply ranting about how all of Barber’s ideological opponents are responsible for brainwashing the kid. He’s apparently a pawn of his evil parents, liberals, atheists, gay activists, Hollywood, etc. To whoever that newscaster was who asked Will Phillips what a gay-wad was, Matt Barber’s your man. Hopefully Jon Stewart can dispatch some pro wrestlers to force an apology. What I want to know is, who is responsible for Matt Barber’s being a flaming moron?

5. Small children prove more knowledgeable about evolution than Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron:

6. Chris Matthews vs. Bishop Tobin over recent Catholic extortion tactic:


One Nation Under Will Phillips

November 20, 2009

I blogged about Will Phillips the other day. He’s the 10-year-old who refused to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance in school because of the lack of marriage equality in the U.S. He’s already got several Facebook Fan Pages like this one. And he adorably appeared on CNN the other night:

I also blogged about Daniel Royston, the Wasilla, Alaska high schooler who, inspired by Will Phillips, also refused to stand for the Pledge.

Well, now there’s Roxanne Westover, a 17-year-old from Ohio who also now made news for not standing for the Pledge after learning in her history class that she didn’t have to:

“I’m an atheist, and I believe the pledge isn’t something toward our nation,” she said. “It’s more like a religious oath, and I believe that if I stand I’m still participating in it.”

And like with the previous cases, she’s being punished for doing so, despite the fact that such punishments are violating their civil rights. The ACLU contacted the school, so now it looks like there won’t any further punishment from school administrators at least.

Westover said she encourages others with similar beliefs to stand up for them by sitting down.

“I do encourage students to not stand up and to stand up for what they believe in,” she said. “Even throughout the whole entire thing, I had a lot of people backing me up who felt the same way about it.”

Roxanne made a point to say that her actions have nothing to do with Will Phillips but that she supports his actions.


Atheist News 7.14.09

July 15, 2009

shredding-constitution1. The Freedom From Religion Foundation is suing over the use of “In God We Trust” at the Capital Visitor Center.

Last week, the House and the Senate passed resolutions directing the Architect of the Capitol to engrave “In God We Trust” and the Pledge of Allegiance in prominent places in the Capitol Visitor Center, which is “the entrance for the thousands of tourists who visit the Capitol every day.” The engraving project is expected to cost up to $150,000…

2. “Imagine No Religion” billboard in Alabama angers Christians – You know your faith is strong if the mere suggestion that you imagine no religion is a legitimate threat to your beliefs.

3. Atheist writes a new version of Dante’s Inferno that places the evangelicals in Hell and where Mark Twain is the guide.


Is Porky Pig a godless heathen?

July 5, 2009

No, just a regular patriotic American before the Religious Right perverted what it meant to be a patriotic American.


Godless News

November 30, 2008

Official trailer to Letting Go Of God:

Letting Go of God is a one-person-monologue by Julia Sweeney chronicling her search for God.

I’ve never seen the show but only clips like this one:

You can buy the DVD of Letting Go Of God here!

10 Books About Atheism You’ll Want For Christmas

Pastor responsible for “Under God” in the pledge dies – He died on Thanksgiving giving me another reason to be thankful.