THE   FOCUS

December 16, 2009
Volume 5, Issue 50
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 

The least religious nations are the happiest, study finds 
National Secular Society 
... to nearly the degree seen in actual human history, and atheism would have been much more widespread and possibly ubiquitous since the beginning... 
http://www.secularism.org.uk/116203.html 

Humanists launch a godless holiday campaign 
Los Angeles Times 
Starting this week, atheists and others who say they embrace reason over religion take out ads showing smiling people wearing red Santa hats with the ... 
http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-beliefs7-2009dec07,0,3201033,full.story 

ACLU sues over rejection of 'winter solstice' display at Capitol 
Arkansas News 
The Society of Freethinkers has objected in the past to the nativity scene, arguing that it violates the separation of church and state. ... 
http://arkansasnews.com/2009/12/10/aclu-sues-over-rejection-of-%E2%80%98winter-solstice%E2%80%99-display-at-capitol/ 

ATHEISM 

Atheist Display Returning To State Capitol Campus 
KIROtv.com 
The state Department of General Administration confirms to KIRO-TV an atheist group from Seattle has requested space for an outdoor display on the state ... 
http://www.kirotv.com/news/21812285/detail.html 

Critics of Cecil Bothwell cite NC bar to atheists 
Asheville Citizen-Times 
“I'm not saying that Cecil Bothwell is not a good man, but if he's an atheist, he's not eligible to serve in public office, according to the state ... 
http://www.citizen-times.com/article/20091208/NEWS01/912080327 

Atheists at Christmas: Eat, drink and be wary 
The Associated Press 
But Christmas is a tough time of year for an atheist. "All the planned activities at this time of year revolve around the church," said O'Neill, ... 
http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5i7tADnxuR79MJPcf7h0C8jxGSMGQD9CFTRE80 

CNSNews.com - Atheist Group Takes 'Godless Holiday' Campaign ... 
The American Humanist Association is expanding its "No God, No Problem" advertising campaign of a holiday season without religion to five major American ... 
http://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/57797 

BOOKS, FILM, THEATRE, TV, YOU TUBE 

USU alum's documentary on California's Proposition 8 to debut at Sundance 
Cache Valley Daily 
“Our team believes it strikes at the heart of one of our country's highest held values–separation of church and state. “And mostly, this film is important ... 
http://www.cachevalleydaily.com/news/local/78533522.html 

Intelligence Squared Atheism is the new fundamentalism 
Intelligence Squared - cool analysis of hot controversy 
The motion proposes thatatheism is the new fundamentalism i.e. atheism has replaced religion as the new faith of the secular age exploring the notion that ... 
http://www.intelligencesquared.com/iq2-video/2009/atheism-is-the-new-fundamentalism 

O come all ye non-faithful, and rejoice in science 
guardian.co.uk 
"There are enough people talking about atheism at the moment and that's not what the show's about. People think the title is saying there's no God – it ... 
http://www.guardian.co.uk/culture/2009/dec/06/robin-ince-comedy-christmas 

Atheist's Guide to Christmas 
Times Online (blog) 
Bess writes: Here's a seasonal book for the non-believer – The Atheist's Guide to Christmas, billed as the first atheist charity book (royalties go to the ... 
http://timesonline.typepad.com/faith/2009/12/atheists-guide-to-christmas.html 

The Evolution of Richard Dawkins, the Rock Star of Neo-atheism 
Politics Daily (blog) 
It's hard to believe that the leading exponent of a brash new school of pugnacious atheism would somehow, miraculously, transform into the soul of charity. ... 
http://www.politicsdaily.com/2009/12/09/the-evolution-richard-dawkins-the-rock-star-of-neo-atheism/ 

Dawkins Ponders the Crocoduck in New Evolution Book: Interview 
Bloomberg 
Lundborg: Why is evolution such a hard sell? It seems so elegant and powerful. Dawkins: It's also not difficult to understand, like quantum theory. ... 
http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601088&sid=aFp9R.48gHN8 

EVOLUTION, CREATIONISM, I.D. 

Feeding Birds in Winter Could Speed Evolution of Species 
U.S. News & World Report 
3 (HealthDay News) -- Many people think evolution takes hundreds, if not thousands, of years, but it can happen much faster and new research shows exactly ... 
http://health.usnews.com/articles/health/healthday/2009/12/03/feeding-birds-in-winter-could-speed-evolution-of.html 

Backyard Feeders Driving Bird Evolution 
Scientific American 
We usually think of evolution as something that happens over eons, in remote places where people rarely venture. Not something that happens around the ... 
http://www.scientificamerican.com/podcast/episode.cfm?id=backyard-feeders-driving-bird-evolu-09-12-04 

Shopping evolution 
Mother Nature Network 
Surprisingly though, the behavior can be traced back to evolution, according to research conducted at the University of Michigan School of Public Health. ... 
http://www.mnn.com/technology/research-innovations/stories/shopping-evolution 

Shopping styles of men and women all down to evolution, claim scientists 
Telegraph.co.uk 
The reason women love to spend hours browsing in shops while men prefer to be in and out of the high street in minutes is down to their hunter-gathering ... 
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/science-news/6720150/Shopping-styles-of-men-and-women-all-down-to-evolution-claim-scientists.html 

Britain's bird tables changing the path of evolution - Telegraph 
Britain's love of bird tables may be interfering with evolution, according to a new study which suggests the feeders are changing the migratory habits and ... 
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/wildlife/6718307/Britains-bird-tables-changing-the-path-of-evolution.html 

Bird Feeders Alter Migration Patterns, Detrimental to Evolution 
EcoWorldly (blog) 
After testing a chemical in the bird's claws that acts like a signature, researchers discovered that there is a split in evolution. Those that migrate to ... 
http://ecoworldly.com/2009/12/05/bird-feeders-alter-migration-patterns-detrimental-to-evolution/ 

'Bird-feeding can impact evolution' 
Times of India 
WASHINGTON: A new research has suggested that feeding birds can have profound effects on their evolutionary future, and those changes can be seen in the ... 
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/5301882.cms 

Birdfeeders Found to Cause Evolution of New Species : TreeHugger 
treehugger.com 
A new species of the blackcap bird soon to take flight? 
http://www.treehugger.com/files/2009/12/birdfeeders-found-to-cause-evolution-bird-species.php#ch03 

Bird feeders speed up evolution 
Mother Nature Network 
The changes in the birds have been drastic, showing the evolution can move quickly. In fewer than 30 generations, birds visiting Britain have evolved ... 
http://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/wilderness-resources/stories/bird-feeders-speed-up-evolution 

SCIENCE 

Superbright Supernova Is First of Its Kind 
ScienceDaily (Dec. 5, 2009) — An extraordinarily bright, extraordinarily long-lasting supernova named SN 2007bi, snagged in a search by a robotic telescope, turns out to be the first example of the kind of stars that first populated the Universe... 
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091202153939.htm 

Marine Life Collected to Inventory DNA Sequence of All Pacific Island's Living Species 
ScienceDaily (Dec. 5, 2009) — University of Florida researchers are collecting marine invertebrates on the French Polynesian island of Moorea as part of a massive effort to inventory the DNA sequence of every living species there... 
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091202153800.htm 

Novel Carbon-Trading Scheme Could Stop Large-Scale Extinctions 
ScienceDaily (Dec. 5, 2009) — A new strategy for saving tropical forest species was published in the journal Science on the eve of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Copenhagen, Denmark, by a team of researchers, including William Laurance, senior staff scientist at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and distinguished professor at James Cook University... 
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091203141930.htm 

Earthquake Prediction Model Developed 
ScienceDaily (Dec. 5, 2009) — The third in a series of papers in the journal Nature completes the case for a new method of predicting earthquakes... 
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091203171712.htm 

Breaking Carbon-Hydrogen Bonds: Cheap, Easy 'Kitchen Chemistry' Developed to Perform Formerly Complex Synthesis 
ScienceDaily (Dec. 5, 2009) — A team at The Scripps Research Institute has made major strides in solving a problem that has been plaguing chemists for many years: how best to break carbon-hydrogen bonds and then to create new bonds to join molecules together... 
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091204092521.htm 

Dream-Enacting Behavior Is Common in Healthy Young Adults 
ScienceDaily (Dec. 5, 2009) — A new study in the journal Sleep shows that dream-enacting behaviors are common in healthy young adults, and the prevalence of specific behaviors differs between men and women... 
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091201084049.htm 

Learning by Imagining: How Mental Imagery Training Aids Perceptual Learning 
ScienceDaily (Dec. 4, 2009) — Practice makes perfect. But imaginary practice? Elisa Tartaglia of the Laboratory of Psychophysics at Switzerland's Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL) and team show that perceptual learning -- learning by repeated exposure to a stimulus -- can occur by mental imagery as much as by the real thing...
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091203132153.htm 

Young Star Cluster Trumpler 14 Revealed in Stunning Image 
ScienceDaily (Dec. 4, 2009) — The young star cluster Trumpler 14 is revealed in another stunning ESO image. The amount of exquisite detail seen in this portrait, which beautifully reveals the life of a large family of stars, is due to the Multi-conjugate Adaptive optics Demonstrator (MAD) on ESO's Very Large Telescope... 
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091203101426.htm 

A Little Magic Provides an Atomic-Level Look at Bone 
ScienceDaily (Dec. 4, 2009) — A new study using solid-state NMR spectroscopy to analyze intact bone paves the way for atomic-level explorations of how disease and aging affect bone... 
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091202162340.htm 

What Happens When an Enormous Star Blows Up? 
ScienceDaily (Dec. 4, 2009) — What happens when a really gargantuan star -- one hundreds of times bigger than our sun -- blows up? Although a theory developed years ago describes what the explosion of such an enormous star should look like, no one had actually observed one -- until now... 
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091203132155.htm 

Poisonous Catfish Described 
ScienceDaily (Dec. 4, 2009) — In contrast to the exhaustive research into venom produced by snakes and spiders, venomous fish have been neglected and remain something of a mystery. Now, a study of 158 catfish species, published in the open access journal BMC Evolutionary Biology, has catalogued the presence of venom glands and investigated their biological effects... 
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091203222139.htm 

A Window That Washes Itself? New Nano-Material May Revolutionize Solar Panels and Batteries, Too 
ScienceDaily (Dec. 4, 2009) — A coating on windows or solar panels that repels grime and dirt? Expanded battery storage capacities for the next electric car? New Tel Aviv University research, just published in Nature Nanotechnology, details a breakthrough in assembling peptides at the nano-scale level that could make these futuristic visions come true in just a few years... 
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091203132159.htm 

SEPARATION CHURCH / STATE 

Paterson says Senate will need to change before he pushes marriage bill again 
Lower Hudson Journal news 
”We have to focus on getting the separation of church and state back in government,“ he said. ”This is not about religion. (The senators) didn't swear on ... 
http://www.lohud.com/article/2009912040342 

Health care reform: Leaders trying to balance church and state 
nwitimes.com 
"I think that there's a reason that from day one there's been a separation of church and state." Cockram said the government should avoid religious ... 
http://nwitimes.com/news/local/article_1c55b72c-1a2a-5100-8440-ee8eef081a2f.html 

To a Divisive Debate, Now Add Religion 
New York Times 
They say it would violate the separation of church and state and could endanger the lives of minors whose parents turn to prayer rather than medicine when ... 
http://prescriptions.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/12/05/to-a-divisive-debate-now-add-religion/ 

Lawsuit protesting religious reference in Texas pledge reaches appeals court 
Abilene Reporter-News 
... to the Dallas couple who sued their local school district and the state claiming the “under God” phrase violates the separation of church and state. ... 
http://www.reporternews.com/news/2009/dec/04/state-pledge-still-includes-under-god-n-suit-in/ 

Atheists take softer approach 
TheNewsTribune.com 
A Seattle-based atheists group asked state officials Friday for permission to display a placard outdoors on the Capitol Campus over the holidays. ... 
http://www.thenewstribune.com/news/northwest/story/981441.html 

Schools strive to stay on key 
Omaha World-Herald 
... Clause — commonly interpreted as requiring the separation of church and state — while recognizing the traditions on which the holidays are based. ... 
http://www.omaha.com/article/20091206/NEWS01/712069917 

Separation of church and state case goes to US supreme court ... 
Now Public 
In a press release from AUAmericans United for Separation of Church and State it has been reported that the U.S. Supreme Court announced on Monday that it ... 
http://www.nowpublic.com/world/separation-church-and-state-case-goes-us-supreme-court 

Church-State Group Cheers Rejection of 'Abortion' Bill 
Opposing Views 
By Americans United - 3 Seconds Ago Americans United for Separation of Church and State today commended the US Senate for rejecting a religion-based ... 
http://www.opposingviews.com/articles/opinion-church-state-group-cheers-rejection-of-abortion-bill-r-1260318095 

Court to rule on Christian group's policy 
Washington Post 
Americans United for Separation of Church and State, which supports the university, said in a statement that the court should make it clear that groups ... 
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/12/07/AR2009120703716.html 

Pearl Jam - Ten Club Community 
“I think there's any number of federal cases that would view this as an imposition of a religious qualification and violate separation of church and state,” ... 
http://community.pearljam.com/viewtopic.php?f=13&t=119538 

Federal Appeals Court Goes With 'God' 
The BLT 
Atheist lawyer and physician Michael Newdow doesn't want the clerk reading that line next Tuesday when a three-judge panel takes up his case challenging the ... 
http://legaltimes.typepad.com/blt/2009/12/appeals-court-denies-challenge-to-saying-god-save-the-united-states.html?cid=6a00d83451d94869e20128763bb35a970c 

MISCELLANEOUS 

Three Eminent Biologists And 'Growing Pains'' Kirk Cameron Weigh ... 
Digg · Facebook · Stumbleupon; via @TheOnion - Three Eminent Biologists And ' Growing Pains'' Kirk Cameron Weigh In On Evolution Twitter; Reddit ... 
http://www.theonion.com/content/magazine/three_eminent_biologists_and 

"Agitprop" Austrian Sculptor Hrdlicka Dies at 81 
ABC News 
A cast-iron sculpture of a prone human being covered by barbed wire in downtown Vienna is among the internationally known works by Hrdlicka, an atheist who ... 
http://abcnews.go.com/Entertainment/wireStory?id=9263127 
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