DECEMBER 19, 2010
Volume 6, Issue 48
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:

Comments, suggestions and subscription:


West Chester votes to end all-denomination holiday displays at courthouse 
Philadelphia Inquirer 
Also called "The Tree of Knowledge," it was bedecked with book covers, many of which focused on atheism. Carol Roper, a member of the society, ... 

Obama signs executive order for faith groups that receive funding 
The Underground 
According to the AP, the Americans United for the Separation of Church and State likes some of the changes but overall feels that the executive order has ... 


Atheists, agnostics gather for convention in Springfield MO 
Skepticon, now in its third year, has grown to become one of the biggest gatherings of atheists and agnostics in America. Organizers project this weekend's ...,0,7672094.story 

Blogger jailed 
BBC News 
He also identified himself as a Proud Atheist. Mr Hasayin's own Facebook pages have now been deleted, but his postings have ignited heated debate in the ... 

Atheists prepare to brave the holidays 
Yesterday, a pro-atheist billboard declaring Christmas “a myth” went up at the New Jersey side of the Lincoln Tunnel. David Silverman, president of New ... 


In Confidence: Richard Dawkins 
Sky TV 
The most famous athiest in the world discusses his career, the most significant events in his life, and, most likely, atheism. ... 


Calls to adopt biology textbooks in Louisiana 
National Center for Science Education 
In the wake of a recommendation to approve new high school biology textbooks despite the ongoing complaints about their presentation of evolution, ... 


Hubble Captures New Star Birth in an Ancient Galaxy 
ScienceDaily (Nov. 20, 2010) — Elliptical galaxies were once thought to be aging star cities whose star-making heyday was billions of years ago... 

Physicists Demonstrate a Four-Fold Quantum Memory 
ScienceDaily (Nov. 20, 2010) — Researchers at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) have demonstrated quantum entanglement for a quantum state stored in four spatially distinct atomic memories... 

Busy Microbial World Discovered in Deepest Ocean Crust Ever Explored 
ScienceDaily (Nov. 19, 2010) — The first study to ever explore biological activity in the deepest layer of ocean crust has found bacteria with a remarkable range of capabilities, including eating hydrocarbons and natural gas, and "fixing" or storing carbon... 

First Successful Salivary Stone Removal With Robotics 
ScienceDaily (Nov. 19, 2010) — Dr. Rohan Walvekar, Assistant Professor of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery, Director of Clinical Research and the Salivary Endoscopy Service at LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans, has reported the first use of a surgical robot guided by a miniature salivary endoscope to remove a 20mm salivary stone and repair the salivary duct of a 31-year-old patient. Giant stones have traditionally required complete removal of the salivary gland... 

Most Powerful Supercomputers Rated for Capabilities Using Tough New System 
ScienceDaily (Nov. 19, 2010) — Nine supercomputers have been tested, validated and ranked by the new "Graph500" challenge, first introduced this week by an international team led by Sandia National Laboratories. The list of submitters and the order of their finish was released Nov. 17 at the supercomputing conference SC10 meeting in New Orleans... 

Controlling Cursors With Thoughts: Faster, Simpler, and More Accurately; Advance Helps People Regulate Their Own Brain Response, With Therapeutic Implications 
ScienceDaily (Nov. 19, 2010) — Using a new brain-computer training approach, 14 volunteers learned in only six minutes how to move a screen cursor with their thoughts. Near-instant feedback helped the people quickly master some of their own brain responses... 

Surprise Link Between Weird Quantum Phenomena: Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle Sets Limits on Einstein's 'Spooky Action at a Distance' 
ScienceDaily (Nov. 19, 2010) — Researchers have uncovered a fundamental link between the two defining properties of quantum physics. The result is being heralded as a dramatic breakthrough in our basic understanding of quantum mechanics and provides new clues to researchers seeking to understand the foundations of quantum theory. The result addresses the question of why quantum behaviour is as weird as it is -- but no weirder... 

Spacecraft Flew Through 'Snowstorm' on Encounter With Comet Hartley 2 
ScienceDaily (Nov. 19, 2010) — On its recent trip by comet Hartley 2, the Deep Impact spacecraft took the first pictures of, and flew through, a storm of fluffy particles of water ice being spewed out by carbon dioxide jets coming from the rough ends of the comet. The resulting images and data shed new light on the nature and composition of comets, according to the University of Maryland-led EPOXI science team, which has just announced its latest findings and released the first images of this comet created snowstorm... 

Ten Years of Soufriere Hills Volcano Research 
ScienceDaily (Nov. 19, 2010) — The Soufriere Hills Volcano on Montserrat erupted in 1995, and an international team of researchers has studied this volcano from land and sea since then to understand the workings of andesite volcanoes more completely... 


Tigard High School principal cited in complaint to Teacher Standards and ... 
The complaint, filed last week, cites Neffendorf for violating the separation of church and state with two videos shown during a Nov. ... 

Charter schools with ties to religious groups raise fears about state funds' use 
Dallas Morning News 
Advantage markets its teaching of creationism and intelligent design. It offers a Bible class as an elective and encourages personal growth through hard ... 

Arguments to take place in Oklahoma over ban on Islamic law in courts 
CNN (blog) 
Separation of Mosque and State. And by the way, that goes for 'any' religious dogma, including Christianity. Separation of Church and State. ... 

Lawsuit regarding meeting invocation still ongoing 
Lariat Saddleback College 
During this time last year, a lawsuit was filed by the Americans United for Separation of Church and State on behalf of many faculty members and students ... 

Lawyer challenges arrest power of Duke University police 
News & Observer 
... local defense lawyer is challenging the arrest power of the Duke University Police Department on the grounds it violates separation of church and state. ... 

Proposal to eliminate invocation at council meetings rejected 
Cape Coral Daily Breeze 
Shudlick said there was no separation of church and state. "I will pay someone $1000 if someone can show me where it says separation of church and state in ... 

City proposes policy that would allow citizens to fly flags at veterans memorial 
Winston-Salem Journal 
In mid-August, the council and Pitt received letters from the ACLU and the Americans United for the Separation of Church and State. ... 

Muslims vs. French School System 
Hudson New York 
... that teachers should reject religious demands by Muslims by explaining the country's principle of laïcité, the official separation of church and state. ... 

A holiday from controversy 
Wilkes Barre Times-Leader 
Vacula, an atheist who posts his views at, said he accomplished his goal: ensuring that the county complied with the law. ... 

Tigard High Veterans Day Assembly stirs controversy 
The complaint cites Neffendorf for violating separation of church and state in two videos shown during the assembly held Nov. 5. The Veterans Day assembly ...