THE   FOCUS

January 12, 2010
Volume 6, Issue 2
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 

Nonprofit group protests religious invocations at Tampa City Council
 
Tampabay.com 
Most are Christian, but some are Jewish, and one was an atheist. Now a nonprofit group based in Wisconsin wants the pre-meeting prayers stopped. ... 
http://www.tampabay.com/news/localgovernment/nonprofit-group-protests-religious-invocations-at-tampa-city-council/1062156 

Delaware government: Critic questions official prayers 
The News Journal 
On one side is Wilmington resident David C. Martin and the Americans United for Separation of Church and State, who say it is a violation of the US ... 
http://www.delawareonline.com/article/20091231/NEWS02/912310350 

Group wants council prayers eliminated 
Tampa Tribune 
Now a nationwide watchdog for separation of church and state has taken aim at the practice, contending that council members are violating the separation ... 
http://www2.tbo.com/content/2009/dec/31/na-group-wants-council-prayers-eliminated/ 

ATHEISM 

The Year In Atheism 
AlterNet 
Have you been missing out on one of AlterNet's most popular authors? Here are 10 of Christina's best works from the year... 
http://www.alternet.org/story/144654/atheism_was_one_of_the_year's_hottest_topics,_and_greta_christina_caught_the_wave_as_well_as_anyone 

BOOKS, FILM, THEATRE, TV, YOU TUBE 

California Science Center is sued for canceling a film promoting intelligent ... 
Los Angeles Times 
Intelligent design is the theory that an intelligent being, rather than impersonal forces such as Darwinian natural selection, is responsible for shaping ... 
http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/news/arts/la-et-science-center29-2009dec29,0,6400745.story 

California Science Center sued over documentary attacking evolution 
Los Angeles Times (blog) 
... has been sued for allegedly canceling an October screening of a documentary that criticizes Charles Darwin's theory of evolution. ... 
http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/culturemonster/2009/12/california-science-center-sued-over-documentary-attacking-evolution.html 

"Darwin's Dilemma" Is Science Center's Problem 
NBC Los Angeles 
Supporters of intelligent design believe a "designer" is behind life on Earth. Others, including a Pennsylvania judge, call it a form of Creationism. ... 
http://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/local-beat/Lawsuit-Claims-Science-Center-Violated-1st-Amendment-80353772.html 

EVOLUTION, CREATIONISM, I.D. 

Gene Mutations Behind Brain Reduction 
BusinessWeek 
Until now, little has been known about the molecular processes involved in this evolution and their genetic underpinnings. Now we have a piece of that ... 
http://www.businessweek.com/lifestyle/content/healthday/634248.html 

So you think you can dance? 
Sydney Morning Herald 
Creationists may have to concede defeat in their fight against the theory of evolution after Darwinists produced the ace up their sleeve: "dad dancing". ... 
http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/society-and-culture/so-you-think-you-can-dance-20091226-lflm.html 

Viruses that adapted to high temperatures may jump species more easily 
Daily News & Analysis 
It was the first genome ever sequenced and often is used by scientists who study evolution because it has a small genome and multiplies quickly. ... 
http://www.dnaindia.com/scitech/report_viruses-that-adapted-to-high-temperatures-may-jump-species-more-easily_1328074 

Burke Museum exhibit celebrates the intersection of art and science 
TheNewsTribune.com 
They are being used to illustrate the evolution of life on Earth. “We had space left over, so there we have designed a space for education. ... 
http://www.thenewstribune.com/soundlife/story/1007820.html 

Some genes boost odds for distributing variety of traits, drive evolution 
Daily News & Analysis 
Their proposed amended view of evolution is based on observations of genetic patterns outside of a cell's DNA and may better explain how organisms, ... 
http://www.dnaindia.com/scitech/report_some-genes-boost-odds-for-distributing-variety-of-traits-drive-evolution_1328373 

Freshwater says he can't remember Lego experiment 
Columbus Dispatch 
The Mount Vernon school board voted last year to fire Freshwater for teaching creationism and intelligent design, failing to remove religious materials from ... 
http://www.dispatch.com/live/content/local_news/stories/2009/12/30/freshwater-testifies-on-his-behalf.html?sid=101 

SCIENCE 

Vampires and Collisions Rejuvenate Stars 
ScienceDaily (Dec. 26, 2009) — Using the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers have uncovered two distinct kinds of "rejuvenated" stars in the globular cluster Messier 30. A new study shows that both stellar collisions and a process sometimes called vampirism are behind this cosmic "face lift."... 
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091223133339.htm 

Further Progress Toward AIDS Vaccine: Rabies-Virus Vaccine Protects Monkeys 
ScienceDaily (Dec. 26, 2009) — Researchers from Thomas Jefferson University are one step closer to developing a vaccine against the AIDS disease... 
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091214121527.htm 

Sun and Moon Trigger Deep Tremors on San Andreas Fault 
ScienceDaily (Dec. 25, 2009) — The faint tug of the sun and moon on the San Andreas Fault stimulates tremors deep underground, suggesting that the rock 15 miles below is lubricated with highly pressurized water that allows the rock to slip with little effort, according to a new study by University of California, Berkeley, seismologists... 
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091223133347.htm 

Growing Evidence Suggests Progesterone Should Be Considered a Treatment Option for Traumatic Brain Injuries 
ScienceDaily (Dec. 25, 2009) — Researchers at Emory University in Atlanta, GA, recommend that progesterone (PROG), a naturally occurring hormone found in both males and females that can protect damaged cells in the central and peripheral nervous systems, be considered a viable treatment option for traumatic brain injuries, according to a clinical perspective... 
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091222121759.htm 

Weir in Space and Dimmed Sun Creates 200-Million-Mile-Long Lab Bench for Turbulence Research 
ScienceDaily (Dec. 25, 2009) — Physicists working in space plasmas have made clever use of the Ulysses spacecraft and the solar minimum to create a massive virtual lab bench to provide a unique test for the science underlying turbulent flows... 
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091211131524.htm 

Do Computers Understand Art? 
ScienceDaily (Dec. 25, 2009) — A team of researchers from the University of Girona and the Max Planck Institute in Germany has shown that some mathematical algorithms provide clues about the artistic style of a painting. The composition of colours or certain aesthetic measurements can already be quantified by a computer, but machines are still far from being able to interpret art in the way that people do... 
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091223094738.htm 

How the Brain Encodes Memories at a Cellular Level 
ScienceDaily (Dec. 25, 2009) — Scientists at UC Santa Barbara have made a major discovery in how the brain encodes memories. The finding, published in the December 24 issue of the journal Neuron, could eventually lead to the development of new drugs to aid memory... 
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091223125125.htm 

Keck Telescopes Gaze Into Young Star's 'Life Zone' 
ScienceDaily (Dec. 25, 2009) — The inner regions of young planet-forming disks offer information about how worlds like Earth form, but not a single telescope in the world can see them. Yet, for the first time, astronomers using the W. M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii have measured the properties of a young solar system at distances closer to the star than Venus is from our sun... 
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091223222226.htm 

Cassini Holiday Movies Showcase Dance of Saturn's Moons 
ScienceDaily (Dec. 24, 2009) — Like sugar plum fairies in "The Nutcracker," the moons of Saturn performed a celestial ballet before the eyes of NASA's Cassini spacecraft. New movies frame the moons' silent dance against the majestic sweep of the planet's rings and show as many as four moons gliding around one another... 
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091223221937.htm 

Herschel Space Telescope Uncovers Sources of Cosmic Infrared Background 
ScienceDaily (Dec. 24, 2009) — A weak cosmic infrared radiation field that reaches Earth from all directions contains not yet deciphered messages about the evolution of galaxies. Using first observations with the PACS Instrument on board ESA's Herschel Space Telescope, scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics and... 
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091220175052.htm 

World's First Molecular Transistor Created 
ScienceDaily (Dec. 24, 2009) — A group of scientists has succeeded in creating the first transistor made from a single molecule. The team, which includes researchers from Yale University and the Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology in South Korea, published their findings in the December 24 issue of the journal Nature... 
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091223133343.htm 

Youthful Appearance of Stars Known as Blue Stragglers Explained 
ScienceDaily (Dec. 24, 2009) — For almost 50 years, astronomers have puzzled over the youthful appearance of stars known as blue stragglers... 
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091223133459.htm 

Fine-Tuning Treatments For Depression 
ScienceDaily (Dec. 24, 2009) — New research clarifies how neurotransmitters like norepinephrine, serotonin, and dopamine, are regulated -- a finding that may help fine-tune therapies for depression... 
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091018141554.htm 

New Warbler Discovered in Laos 
ScienceDaily (Dec. 24, 2009) — A diminutive, colorful bird living in the rocky forests of Laos and Vietnam has been discovered by a team of scientists from the Wildlife Conservation Society, Lao PDR Department of Forestry, Swedish University of Agricultural Science, Swedish Museum of Natural History, BirdLife International and other groups... 
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091222105318.htm 

SEPARATION CHURCH / STATE 

Illinois police protect atheist sign 
UPI.com 
24 (UPI) -- A conservative candidate for Illinois comptroller was ordered out of the state Capitol for trying to remove a sign placed by an atheist group, ... 
http://www.upi.com/Top_News/US/2009/12/24/Illinois-police-protect-atheist-sign/UPI-14301261709429/ 

In Reversal, Stars Adorn Trees Again 
New York Times 
“It is very offensive to agnostics, atheists and those who believe in separation of church and state to be subjected to this by their government. ... 
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/25/us/25tree.html?_r=1 

RI field fight part of bigger church-state dispute 
Washington Post 
A fight over athletic fields in this city goes well beyond who gets to play soccer where, and is raising thorny questions about separation of church and ... 
http://www.boston.com/news/education/k_12/articles/2009/12/27/ri_field_fight_part_of_bigger_church_state_dispute/ 

Children's home faces challenge 
OneNewsNow 
... the children's home, points out that the American Civil Liberties Union and Americans United for Separation of Church and State initiated the lawsuit. ... 
http://www.onenewsnow.com/Legal/Default.aspx?id=827034 

Pennsylvania County Agrees to Remove Religious Symbols From ... 
... Courthouse after receiving a letter from Americans United for Separation of Church and State and the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania. ... 
http://www.commondreams.org/newswire/2009/12/17-8 

Issaquah school board asked to remove Pledge of Allegiance from meetings 
Newcastle News 
“The words 'under God' in the pledge are offensive to your atheist residents in this school district,” Barry said at the meeting. “A study from last year, ... 
http://www.newcastle-news.com/2009/12/28/resident-asks-school-board-to-remove-pledge-of-allegiance-from-meetings 

LAPD Drops Boy Scouts Over Discrimination 
Gay Vantage 
... ties with the Boy Scouts of America because of the youth groups policies that discriminate against LGBT youth and those that are atheist or agnostic. ... 
http://www.gayvantage.com/gay-news/lapd-drops-boy-scouts-over-discrimination-48372011/ 

Europe talks with faiths it once thought would fade 
Reuters UK 
"Countries that were heading for a stricter separation of church and state, as in France, are now more open to religion while countries where the state was ... 
http://uk.reuters.com/article/idUKTRE5BS18M20091229?sp=true 

Same-sex couples say, 'I do' 
The Union Leader 
Any law on it is an infringement on the concept of separation of church and state. By signing this bill, the legislature and the governor became pawns of ... 
http://www.unionleader.com/article.aspx?headline=Same-sex+couples+say%2C+'I+do'&articleId=ce53705b-7dc1-416c-99ca-1ff39af6d2fa 

South Windsor, Under Pressure, Moves Graduation Out Of Cathedral 
Hartford Courant 
By JOSEPH A. O'BRIEN Special to The Courant SOUTH WINDSOR — - The board of education has sidestepped a legal fight over the separation of church and state ... 
http://www.courant.com/community/south-windsor/hc-church-state1231.artdec30,0,4163558.story 

MISCELLANEOUS 

Theologian determines God's IQ - intelligent design questioned 
The Spoof (satire) 
In post-modern times, 'intelligent design' is the theory most often offered as a challenge to Darwinian evolution. According to the theory of intelligent ... 
http://www.thespoof.com/news/spoof.cfm?headline=s5i65765 

Vic Chesnutt, Singer and Songwriter, Dies at 45 
New York Times 
“I'm not a victim/Oh, I am an atheist,” Mr. Chesnutt sang in “Speed Racer,” from his first album, “Little,” produced by Michael Stipe of REM and released in ... 
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/26/arts/music/26chesnutt.html 

Friendly Atheist by @hemantsblog » Are You Around Your Religious ... 
to find some atheist friends and use as many of these lines as I can over the Christmas period. I know that's kind of the unpoint, but I don't [...] ... 
http://friendlyatheist.com/2009/12/22/are-you-around-your-religious-family-for-the-holidays/ 

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