THE   FOCUS

November 6, 2009
Volume 5, Issue 45
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.

Comments, suggestions and subscription:
info@centerforatheism.org.


 
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.
 
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FEATURED ARTICLES 

Strasbourg Gives Bad Marks to Crucifixes in Italian Schools 
TIME 
... courtrooms) might be jarring to those in the US and UK — even the religiously inclined — where separation of church and state is drawn with clear lines. ... 
http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1934859,00.html 

Italy challenges ruling that crucifix in class violates religious freedom 
Times Online 
... had taken the issue to Strasbourg on the grounds that displaying crucifixes in classrooms contradicted the separation of Church and state in Italy. ... 
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/europe/article6901228.ece 

ATHEISM 

Atheist group takes message to Lakeland via billboard 
Tampa Tribune 
The bottom of the billboard lists the Web site of Atheists of Florida, the group that paid for the message, wwwatheistsofflorida.org. ... 
http://www2.tbo.com/content/2009/nov/02/021442/atheist-group-takes-message-lakeland-billboard/news-breaking/ 

Atheists Concerned Over UN Defamation of Religions Resolution 
Opposing Views 
By American Atheists , An Educational Organization for Atheists - 9 Minutes Ago An Atheist civil rights group today expressed concern that a proposed UN ... 
http://www.opposingviews.com/articles/opinion-atheists-concerned-over-un-defamation-of-religions-resolution-r-1257271842 

Atheist billboard vandalized a second time 
KHQ Right Now 
An atheist billboard in Moscow, Idaho has been vandalized for the second time in two weeks. The billboard originally read "Millions are good without God" ... 
http://www.khq.com/Global/story.asp?S=11443349 

Atheist group gathering in Seattle 
Longview Daily News 
By Janet I. Tu SEATTLE -- When some 600 atheists, agnostics and other nonreligious folks gather in Seattle starting Friday for a Freedom From Religion ... 
http://www.tdn.com/articles/2009/11/04/breaking_news/doc4af1b7c792370475921590.txt 

BOOKS, FILM, THEATRE, TV, YOU TUBE 

Human Evolution Lucy and Neandertals Scientific American Podcast 
October 23 2009 | 9 comments. Human Evolution Lucy and Neandertals. Anthropologist Chris Stringer of the Natural History Museum in London talks about ... 
http://www.scientificamerican.com/podcast/episode.cfm?id=human-evolution-lucy-and-neandertha-09-10-23 

'The Greatest Show on Earth' 
San Francisco Chronicle 
Most recently he vented his anger with a splenetic defense of atheism in "The God Delusion," but now he has largely avoided rancor and has laid out the most ... 
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/10/30/RVO31A8NU9.DTL&type=science 

Despite Recent Controversy, Understanding "New Atheism' Is Simple: 
Media Newswire (press release) 
Amherst, NY - The so-called New Atheist movement that topped the bestseller lists a couple of years ago-with books by Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, ... 
http://media-newswire.com/release_1104755.html 

On 'Nova,' Theories of How the Apes Became Us 
New York Times 
Human evolution is the subject of a new “Nova” series. The latest on the arts, coverage of live events, critical reviews, multimedia extravaganzas and much ... 
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/03/arts/television/03human.html?_r=1 

EVOLUTION, CREATIONISM, I.D. 

Home economics and evolution 
guardian.co.uk 
In other words, the sabre-toothed tiger was directly responsible for the evolution of Dolly Parton's cleavage. Or perhaps I am missing something. ... 
http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2009/nov/01/catching-fire-richard-wrangham-review 

Creationism, Minus a Young Earth, Emerges in the Islamic World 
New York Times 
ORIGINS Darwin's finches on the Islamic symbol in art work used at a conference in Massachusetts about the acceptance of evolution among Muslims. ... 
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/03/science/03islam.html 

There's a Speed Limit to the Pace of Evolution, Penn Biologists Say 
Penn 
PHILADELPHIA –- Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have developed a theoretical model that informs the understanding of evolution and determines ... 
http://www.upenn.edu/pennnews/article.php?id=1750 

Biologist Richard Dawkins on the evolution debate 
Los Angeles Times 
Author of 'The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution' shares his passion for spreading an understanding of scientific processes with the ... 
http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-sciw-dawkins-qanda4-2009nov04,0,4454290.story 

Evolution of man - Singapore joins first steps of gene study 
Channel News Asia 
Taking Darwin's theory of evolution to another level,the project will allow scientists to reconstruct the evolutionary history of the human and other ... 
http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/singaporelocalnews/view/1016078/1/.html 

Genes plan sheds light on evolution 
The Press Association 
An ambitious project to create a "genome zoo" containing the complete genetic codes of 10000 vertebrate species has been outlined by scientists. ... 
http://www.google.com/hostednews/ukpress/article/ALeqM5hBXg05FUdOgJqsmCPmImr5Cn0jzA 

SCIENCE 

Nepotism Has Its Benefits When It Comes To Survival, At Least For Spiders 
ScienceDaily (Nov. 1, 2009) — While nepotism may have negative connotations in politics and the workplace, being surrounded by your relatives does lead to better group dynamics and more cooperation in some animals. That certainly seems to be the case for spiders, according to a new study published in the open access journal BMC Evolutionary Biology... 
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091026192905.htm 

What Causes Blood Cells To Deform, And How Does Deformation Affect Blood Flow? 
ScienceDaily (Nov. 1, 2009) — Red blood cells, which make up 45 percent of blood, normally take the shape of circular cushions with a dimple on either side. But they can sometimes deform into an asymmetrical slipper shape. A team of physicists have used simulations to explore how fluid flow might be responsible for this deformation, as well as how the deformation in turn affects blood flow... 
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091026132935.htm 

E-Infrastructures Give Real Boost To Virtual Observatories 
ScienceDaily (Nov. 1, 2009) — New tools and systems developed by European researchers are helping astronomers access data centres from anywhere in the world. From charting new stars to finding new meaning in old stellar objects, the result will be virtual observatories with very real impact... 
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091012100514.htm 

New Analyses Of Dinosaur Growth May Wipe Out One-third Of Species 
ScienceDaily (Oct. 31, 2009) — Paleontologists from the University of California, Berkeley, and the Museum of the Rockies have wiped out two species of dome-headed dinosaur, one of them named three years ago -- with great fanfare -- after Hogwarts, the school attended by Harry Potter... 
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091031002314.htm 

New DNA Method Makes It Easier To Trace Criminals 
ScienceDaily (Oct. 31, 2009) — DNA samples often convict criminals. But many of today's forensic tests are so polluted by soil, tobacco and food remains, for example, that they can not be used. Now researchers at Lund University in Sweden, working together with the Swedish National Laboratory of Forensic Science, SKL, have improved a critical part of the analysis process... 
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091029155956.htm 

LANL Roadrunner Models Nonlinear Physics Of High-power Lasers 
ScienceDaily (Oct. 31, 2009) — For years scientists have struggled with the difficult physics of inertial confinement fusion. This is the attempt to compress a target capsule containing isotopes of hydrogen with high-powered lasers to high enough pressure and temperature to initiate fusion burn... 
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091028113948.htm 

Roadrunner Supercomputer Simulates Nanoscale Material Failure 
ScienceDaily (Oct. 30, 2009) — Very tiny wires, called nanowires, made from such metals as silver and gold, may play a crucial role as electrical or mechanical switches in the development of future-generation ultrasmall nanodevices... 
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091029111917.htm 

No Pain, No Gain: Mastering A Skill Makes Us Stressed In The Moment, Happy Long Term 
ScienceDaily (Oct. 30, 2009) — No pain, no gain applies to happiness, too, according to new research published online in the Journal of Happiness Studies. People who work hard at improving a skill or ability, such as mastering a math problem or learning to drive, may experience stress in the moment, but experience greater happiness on a daily basis and longer term, the study suggests... 
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091029120900.htm 

Exploring The Final Frontier: Disease Proposed As Major Barrier To Mars And Beyond 
ScienceDaily (Oct. 30, 2009) — A new report appearing in The Journal of Leukocyte Biology argues that human missions to Mars, as well as all other long-term space flights might be compromised by microbial hitchhikers, such as bacteria. That's because long-term space travel packs a one-two punch to astronauts: first it appears to weaken their immune systems; and second, it increases the virulence and growth of microbes... 
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091029141251.htm 

Battery Of The Future: New Storage Material Improves Energy Density Of Lithium-ion Battery 
ScienceDaily (Oct. 30, 2009) — High-performance energy storage technologies for the automotive industry or mobile phone batteries and notebooks providing long battery times -- these visions of the future are being brought one step nearer by scientists from Graz University of Technology... 
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091029160532.htm 

'Culture Of We' Buffers Genetic Tendency To Depression 
ScienceDaily (Oct. 30, 2009) — A genetic tendency to depression is much less likely to be realized in a culture centered on collectivistic rather than individualistic values, according to a new Northwestern University study... 
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091028090659.htm 

Largest Bat In Europe Inhabited Northeastern Spain More Than 10,000 Years Ago 
ScienceDaily (Oct. 30, 2009) — Spanish researchers have confirmed that the largest bat in Europe, Nyctalus lasiopterus, was present in north-eastern Spain during the Late Pleistocene (between 120,000 and 10,000 years ago). The Greater Noctule fossils found in the excavation site at Abríc Romaní (Barcelona) prove that this bat had a greater geographical presence more than 10,000 years ago than it does today, having declined due to the reduction in vegetation cover... 
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091029113756.htm 

Surgery Potentially Best Option For Severe Migraine Headaches 
ScienceDaily (Oct. 30, 2009) — The disability from migraine headaches is an enormous health burden affecting over 30 million Americans... 
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091025091142.htm 

Opening Up A Colorful Cosmic Jewel Box 
ScienceDaily (Oct. 30, 2009) — Star clusters are among the most visually alluring and astrophysically fascinating objects in the sky. One of the most spectacular nestles deep in the southern skies near the Southern Cross in the constellation of Crux... 
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091029102425.htm 

SEPARATION CHURCH / STATE 

Forks officials undecided in church-state debate 
Allentown Morning Call 
... to a local church violated the constitutional separation of church and state ended Thursday in two failed motions and no clear direction moving forward. ... 
http://www.mcall.com/news/all-a3_3forks.7070786oct30,0,6973050.story 

rules: No indoor displays this year 
The Olympian 
... factions might simply move outdoors, according to a leader from a Wisconsin group that works to maintain the separation of church and state. ... 
http://www.theolympian.com/southsound/story/1020811.html 

Should prayers be covered? 
Chicago Tribune 
... the constitutional separation of church and state; and the question of whether faith-based approaches should be treated as equivalent to science-based ... 
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/chi-tc-health-religion-1031-1101nov01,0,7735579.story 

SCHOOL PRAYER: The Establishment Clause debate 
The News Herald 
From that clause, the American legal system has interpreted the ideal of the “separation of church and state.” It's a phrase not found anywhere in the ... 
http://www.newsherald.com/news/football-78682-constitution-strongly.html 

Parade canceled amid legal concerns, protests 
Dayton Daily News 
When the village hoped to avoid problems over the constitutional issue of separation of church and state by changing the Christmas parade to a "holiday" ... 
http://www.daytondailynews.com/news/ohio-news/parade-canceled-amid-legal-concerns-protests-379696.html 

Christmas parade canceled 
Cincinnati.com 
... by village solicitor Laura Abrams it shouldn't be called a Christmas parade because the village could be sued over the separation of church and state. ... 
http://communitypress.cincinnati.com/article/20091102/NEWS/911020317 

Palmetto Christian to become public charter school 
Sarasota Herald-Tribune 
The move has some questioning whether school officials are skirting state law and also violating the separation of church and state enshrined in the ... 
http://www.heraldtribune.com/article/20091102/ARTICLE/911021059?Title=Palmetto-Christian-to-become-public-charter-school 

US Supreme Court weighs challenge to wording of pledge of allegiance 
National Post 
... of allegiance a new court case could help settle once and for all if those words violate the American tradition of the separation of church and state. ... 
http://network.nationalpost.com/np/blogs/holy-post/archive/2009/11/02/u-s-supreme-court-weighs-challenge-to-wording-of-pledge-of-allegiance.aspx 

Italy appeals European Court's ruling against crucifix in schools 
Xinhua 
Crucifixes are present in Italian public buildings although the postwar Constitution ordered a separation of Church and State, while Catholicism ceased to ... 
http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2009-11/04/content_12382238.htm 

Christmas vs. Holiday Parade 
WCPO 
However, as mayor he worries about separation of church and state legalities. The parade is being formed by a private party and the committee continues to ... 
http://www.wcpo.com/news/local/story/Christmas-vs-Holiday-Parade/LV1Pwbw1uECIZeYgoT3XiQ.cspx 

Should Signers of Anti-Gay Rights Petition Be Exposed? 
CBS News 
What I have a problem with is if there is true separation of Church and State then why does the state make money on a religious ceremony via a Marriage ... 
http://www.cbsnews.com/blogs/2009/11/03/politics/politicalhotsheet/entry5507399.shtml 

Controversy ends Christmas parade 
Cincinnati.com 
Members of Village Council figured the government could sponsor the event and avoid the constitutional issue requiring separation of church and state by ... 
http://news.cincinnati.com/article/20091102/NEWS01/311020028/-1/frontpage/Controversy+ends+Christmas+parade 

Italy school crucifixes 'barred' 
BBC News 
... Italy to see crucifixes in public buildings, including schools, despite the constitution saying that there should be a separation of church and state. ... 
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/8340411.stm 

Town will no longer plow church parking lot 
Meredith News 
by Lauren Tiner Worried about a lack of separation between church and state, selectmen decided last week to indefinitely table a Memorandum of Understanding ... 
http://www.meredithnhnews.com/Articles-c-2009-11-03-149861.113119_Town_will_no_longer_plow_church_parking_lot.html 

Provision in Health Care Bill Governing Prayer Treatments May Be Unconstitutional 
truthout 
Critics fear the precedent this could have on the constitutional separation of church and state, as well as whether it would encourage other religious ... 
http://www.truthout.org/1105094 

MISCELLANEOUS 

None 
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