THE   FOCUS

April 24, 2009
Volume 5, Issue 17
Published by the Center For Atheism (CFA)
Editor: David Birnkrant
 
The Focus provides links to articles collected from major newspapers and magazines, and is emailed weekly.

This Week in Atheism is a cable show that discusses the articles featured below, every Wednesday at 6:30 PM (EST), Manhattan Cable station 57. 
Live streaming is available at: 
http://www.mnn.org.

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                         (SPECIAL NOTICES - BOTTOM OF PAGE)-                                -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
FEATURED ARTICLES

GOP Should Remove ‘Traditional Marriage' Plank from Party Platform ..
CNSNews.com - Alexandria,VA,USA
“Well, I am somebody who believes in the separation of church and state and that the government, frankly, ought to be out of the business of marriage ...
http://www.cnsnews.com/public/content/article.aspx?RsrcID=46850

State education chair faces senate panel
Texas Cable News - Dallas,TX,USA
He has also earned national attention for leading the charge to question evolution in Texas classrooms. “We don't accept evolution,” he said. ...
http://www.txcn.com/sharedcontent/dws/txcn/austin/stories/042209kvueeducation-bkm.ff952b8b.html

ATHEISM

Atheist to join new BBC religion board
The Christian Institute - Newcastle upon Tyne,Tyne and Wear,UK
An atheist group which is to begin advising the BBC on religious programmes such as Thought for the Day is heralding the change as a “great step†. ..
http://www.christian.org.uk/news/20090421/atheist-to-join-new-bbc-religion-board/

Reaching the local atheist group is as easy as dialing 666 ...
The Herald-Times (subscription) - Bloomington,IN,USA
Whatever the case, chalk it up as odd, at the very least, that when the Indiana Atheist Bus Campaign applied for a telephone number, it was assigned ...
http://wwwheraldtimesonline.com/stories/2009/04/23/column.qp-5127953.sto

National religion survey finds increase in secularity
UM Maneater - Columbia,MO,USA
Jen Nadler, a sophomore who identifies herself as an atheist, said she believes the reason for this decline is an influx of knowledge about world religions ...
http://www.themaneater.com/stories/2009/4/23/national-religion-survey-finds-increase-secularity/

BOOKS, FILM, THEATRE, TV, YOU TUBE

Fourth Estate plans atheist Christmas
The Bookseller - London,England,UK
Fourth Estate is to publish a charity Christmas book edited by Ariane Sherine, the writer behind the Atheist Bus Campaign, known for the controversial ...
http://www.thebookseller.com/news/82977-fourth-estate-plans-atheist-christmas.html

One man's long, strange trip to disbelief
St. Louis Post-Dispatch - St. Louis,MO,USA
It joins a burgeoning shelf of atheist apologias that have appeared in recent years. Books by authors Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins ...
http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/news/columnists.nsf/kevinhorrigan/story/A9F8193174CD43538625759C0009FD9C?OpenDocument

EVOLUTION, CREATIONISM, I.D.

A project's evolution: ‘Tree of Life' combines disciplines to ...
Lawrence Journal World - Lawrence,KS,USA
It started with symposia in 2007 to discuss how evolution could be discussed onstage. The end result is an hourlong performance that involves dancers, ...
http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2009/apr/19/projects-evolution-tree-life-combines-disciplines-/

Texas Board of Education appointee denies pushing creationism
Dallas Morning News - Dallas,TX,USA
Eliot Shapleigh, D-El Paso, citing repeated efforts by McLeroy to water down teaching of evolution in science classes McLeroy responded that has never been ...
http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/news/texassouthwest/stories/DN-mcleroy_23tex.ART.State.Edition1.4ab3460.html

Walking Seal Called Missing Link in Evolution
FOXNews - USA
The newfound species, dubbed Puijila darwini, might be the long-sought missing link in the evolution of pinnipeds — a group that includes modern seals, ..
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,517466,00.html

SCIENCE

Tracking Down The Effect Of Nanoparticles
ScienceDaily (Apr. 19, 2009) — Cerium oxide is a ceramic nano-abrasive. Scientists have now examined, under conditions close to reality, what happens when it is breathed in and deposited on the lung surface. Initially, the result was rather reassuring...
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090412081747.htm

Next Generation Nanofilms Created
ScienceDaily (Apr. 19, 2009) — With the human genome in hand, biochemists have cataloged the 3-D structures of thousands of proteins isolated from living cells. But one important class of proteins -- those stuck in the cell membranes -- has proven difficult to extract and study in 3-D crystals. Now an international team of scientists has developed a way to train such molecules to line up neatly on the surface of water in thin, tissue-like layers called nanofilms...
C:\Documents and Settings\birnkrantda\Local Settings\Temp\notesF20BA6\~7098409.htm

Smart Material Technology Adapted To Repairing Skeletal Malformations Succeeds
ScienceDaily (Apr. 18, 2009) — Innovative technology developed in cooperation between the Electronics Department of the Helsinki University of Technology (TKK) and the Orton Invalid Foundation is a significant step in the repair of skeletal malformations. The technology has been developed with limb lengthening treatment in mind, but it can be more widely applied to the repair of skeletal malformations...
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090415074843.htm

When Cancer Cells Can't Let Go
ScienceDaily (Apr. 18, 2009) — Like a climber scaling a rock face, a migrating cancer cell has to keep a tight grip on the surface but also let go at the right moment to move ahead. Chan et al. reveal that the focal adhesion kinase (FAK) coordinates these processes to permit forward movement...
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090413083313.htm

NASA Goddard To Purge Rocket-Bursting Bubbles On Ares-1
ScienceDaily (Apr. 18, 2009) — Of all the things that can bring down a rocket, bubbles seem the most unlikely. They are a threat to rockets that use very cold liquid fuels, like the upper stage of NASA's new Ares 1 rocket, which will carry astronauts to the space station and join up in orbit with spacecraft carried by the larger Ares 5 rocket for missions to the moon and beyond. Bubbles can form when frigid liquid hydrogen and oxygen fuel are pumped into a rocket engine. The problem arises when they pop...
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090413093755.htm

Alligators Hint At What Life May Have Been Like For Dinosaurs
ScienceDaily (Apr. 18, 2009) — During the last 540 million years, the earth's oxygen levels have fluctuated wildly. Knowing that the dinosaurs appeared around the time when oxygen levels were at their lowest at 12%, Tomasz Owerkowicz, Ruth Elsey and James Hicks wondered how these monsters coped at such low oxygen levels. But without a ready supply of dinosaurs to test their ideas on, Owerkowicz and Hicks turned to a modern relative: the alligator...
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090417083957.htm

Tectonic Events Behind Earthquake That Killed 595 In Peru
ScienceDaily (Apr. 18, 2009) — A magnitude 8.0. earthquake destroyed 90 percent of the city of Pisco, Peru on August 16, 2007. The event killed 595 people, while another 318 were missing. Tsunami waves were observed locally, off the shore of Chile, and as far away as New Zealand...
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090410100937.htm

New Way To Analyze Sleep Disorders
ScienceDaily (Apr. 18, 2009) — Sleep is such an essential part of human existence that we spend about a third of our lives doing it -- some more successfully than others. Sleep disorders afflict some 50-70 million people in the United States and are a major cause of disease and injury. People who suffer from disturbed sleep have an increased risk of heart attack, stroke, hypertension, obesity, depression, and accidents. Nearly a fifth of all serious car crashes, in fact, are linked to sleeplessness...
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090415113330.htm

Cosmic Heavyweights In Free-for-all
ScienceDaily (Apr. 17, 2009) — The most crowded collision of galaxy clusters has been identified by combining information from three different telescopes. This result gives scientists a chance to learn what happens when some of the largest objects in the Universe go at each other in a cosmic free-for-all...
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090416111925.htm

Solomon Islands Earthquake Sheds Light On Enhanced Tsunami Risk
ScienceDaily (Apr. 17, 2009) — The 2007 Solomon Island earthquake may point to previously unknown increased earthquake and tsunami risks because of the unusual tectonic plate geography and the sudden change in direction of the earthquake, according to geoscientists...
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090409142243.htm

RNA Used To Reprogram One Cell Type Into Another
ScienceDaily (Apr. 17, 2009) — For the past decade, researchers have tried to tweak cells at the gene and nucleus level to reprogram their identity. Now, working on the idea that the signature of a cell is defined by molecules called messenger RNAs, which contain the chemical blueprint for how to make a protein, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, School of Arts and Sciences and School of Engineering have found another way to change one cell type into another...
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090416144643.htm

Laughter Remains Good Medicine
ScienceDaily (Apr. 17, 2009) — The connection between the body, mind and spirit has been the subject of conventional scientific inquiry for some 20 years. The notion that psychosocial and societal considerations have a role in maintaining health and preventing disease became crystallized as a result of the experiences of a layman, Norman Cousins. In the 1970s, Cousins, then a writer and magazine editor of the popular Saturday Review, was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease...
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090417084115.htm

Newly Discovered Iron-breathing Species Have Lived In Cold Isolation For Millions Of Years
ScienceDaily (Apr. 17, 2009) — A reservoir of briny liquid buried deep beneath an Antarctic glacier supports hardy microbes that have lived in isolation for millions of years, researchers report April 17 in the journal Science...
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090416144512.htm

Major Boost In Atomic Clock Accuracy: Loses Or Gains Less Than A Second Every 300 Million Years
ScienceDaily (Apr. 17, 2009) — Physicists have measured and controlled seemingly forbidden collisions between neutral strontium atoms—a class of antisocial atoms known as fermions that are not supposed to collide when in identical energy states. The advance makes possible a significant boost in the accuracy of atomic clocks based on hundreds or thousands of neutral atoms...
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090416144525.htm

SEPARATION CHURCH / STATE

Greece school directory 'crosses a line,' critic says
Rochester Democrat and Chronicle - Rochester,NY,USA
VanOrman said the group worked closely with the school's attorneys to ensure they don't breach the separation of church and state. ...
http://www.democratandchronicle.com/article/20090419/NEWS01/904190334/1002/NEWS

Gay Episcopal bishop says civil and religious marriage should be ...
Los Angeles Times - CA,USA
"I think we could actually gain some support from our detractors if we could make this separation clear." Robinson visited the Studio City church while in ...
http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2009/04/gay-episcopal-bishop-says-civil-and-religious-marriage-should-be-separate.html

Will White House observe National Day of Prayer?
USA Today - USA
.. a spokesman for Americans United for Separation of Church and State, of any White House consideration of a National Day of Prayer observance. ...
http://www.usatoday.com/news/religion/2009-04-21-prayer-day_N.htm

Wisconsin parents object to public graduation at evangelical church
Minnesota Independent - Minneapolis,MN,USA
Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United said: “I can understand why gay kids, atheist kids and kids from other non-evangelical faith groups would ...
http://minnesotaindependent.com/33008/wisconsin-parents-object-to-public-graduation-at-evangelical-church

Advocacy group files lawsuit to force Waukesha County schools to ...
FOX6Now.com Milwaukee - Milwaukee,WI,USA
By AP MILWAUKEE (AP) — A group advocating separation of church and state has filed a federal lawsuit to try to keep a Wisconsin school district from holding ...
http://wwwfox6now.com/news/sns-ap-wi--church-graduations,0,4176114.story

Church member raises question
Burlington Hawk Eye - IA, United States
Seeking answers, Riessen contacted Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, a non-profit group dedicated to preserving the constitutional ...
http://www.thehawkeye.com/Story/tax-credits-042209-sidebar

Gay marriage on center stage
SunJournal.com - Lewiston,ME,USA
Though the US Constitution calls specifically for the separation of church and state, there's no denying that when it comes to marriage, the line between ...
http://www.sunjournal.com/story/313824-3/MaineNews/Gay_marriage_on_center_stage/

Poll: New York Supports Gay Marriage
Evening Bulletin - Philadelphia,PA,USA
Mr. Paterson, however, said he believes banning civil same-sex marriage on religious grounds blurs the line between separation of church and state and ...
http://thebulletin.us/articles/2009/04/22/news/nation/doc49ed552a1eda7979018695.txt

Atheists Hail Florida Decision Protecting Third Graders From ...
American Chronicle - Beverly Hills,CA,USA
An Atheist state-church separation group has heralded a decision by a Federal Judge that struck down a move by a Florida grade school to include an overtly ...
http://www.americanchronicle.com/articles/view/99844

MISCELLANEOUS

Policemen declare their religion is 'Jedi'
CNET News - San Francisco,CA,USA
(The UK Office of National Statistics lumps 'Jedi' in with 'Atheist'.) It's more of a spiritual church that encourages its followers to embrace the good and ...
http://news.cnet.com/8301-17852_3-10222119-71.html

Richard Dawkins Confesses: "Evolution is a Marxist Conspiracy!"
TPMCafé - New York,NY,USA
Dawkins came to prominence with his 1976 book The Selfish Gene, which popularized the gene-centred view of evolution. In 1982, he made a widely cited ...
http://tpmcafe.talkingpointsmemo.com/talk/blogs/justiceputnam/2009/04/richard-dawkins-confesses-evol.php?ref=reccafe

=============================================
        CFA Program
 
The Center for Atheism (CFA) was established by the New York City Atheists as a separate and independent national organization to propose, develop, and be a catalyst for new national activities supporting the objectives of atheists, agnostics, humanists, freethinkers, skeptics, secularists and separation-of-church-and-state advocates. 

CFA will accept and review suggestions from individuals and other secular organizations that will foster our goals.
 
 
          Special Notices

Atheists to Counter ‘National Day of Prayer' with Blood Donations Lifesaving Action, Not Passive Prayer, Is the Message

What do you do on May 7, 2009, the “National Day of Prayer,” if you are an atheist, do not believe in prayer and are opposed to the observance of a prayer day being imposed on all American citizens?

While Believers are praying on May 7th (an act that has been scientifically proven to be ineffective), groups of atheists will go to Blood Banks in scores of U.S. locales to donate their blood and sign up for organ donation programs. It is a nationwide action which we hope will point out that there are alternatives to silently beseeching a deity to perform miracles.

"While religious people are on their knees, we atheists will be on our feet, giving a part of ourselves for the benefit of humanity. We Atheists know that prayer does not work--but  medical science does."

"We want to make a public statement about how nonreligious people can observe the so-called National Day of Prayer, which we have renamed Gift to Life Day,". "At the same time, we want to let America know that there are millions of us who know that praying is nothing more than talking to yourself. So on that day, we atheists will be engaging in action that we can prove scientifically has real-life impact on our fellow citizens."

If you want to start a Gift of Life Day in your locale, it’s simple. Here’s what you do:

        1) Find your local blood bank by accessing www.americasblood.org or         
            http://wwwgivelife.org, then type in your zip code to find your local           
            blood bank.

        2) Phone the blood bank to make arrangements for a group donation.

            (You will find them amazingly supportive and accommodating.)

        3) Notify your local newspaper, TV and other media that your group is

            doing this and why. It’s important to alert them long before the event.

It's simple, it's positive, it's effective. Come on, Agnostics, Atheists, Freethinkers, Humanists, Secularists, Nonbelievers, Separation of Church and State advocates, join us in our humanitarian protest against the Day of Prayer! Show the world that while religious people are on their knees, Atheists are on their feet giving of themselves to humanity.

 

 

 
 
 
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