APRIL 14, 2011
Volume 7, Issue 14
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. 
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European court: Crucifix OK in class 
Inland Valley Daily Bulletin 
The ruling overturned a decision the court had reached in November 2009 in which it said the crucifix could be disturbing to non-Christian or atheist pupils. Led by Italy, several European countries appealed that ruling. The case originated in Italy, ... 

Court allows crucifix in classroom 
The Kerryman 
In November 2009, the court ruled that the crucifix could be disturbing to non-Christian or atheist pupils. Several European countries appealed against the ruling, and the final decision by the court's Grand Chamber came down on Friday. 

Top European court rules crucifixes acceptable in classrooms 
Deutsche Welle 
The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that crucifixes are acceptable in public school classrooms, dismissing claims that they violate the rights of non-Christian and atheist students. The European Court of Human Rights on Friday ruled that ...,,14923515,00.html 


Religion may become extinct in nine nations, study says 
A study using census data from nine countries shows that religion there is set for extinction, say researchers... 

Atheists formalize plans for national convention 
Iowa Independent 
By Lynda Waddington | 03.22.11 | 10:06 am Plans for an upcoming national convention of atheists in Des Moines are being finalized, and central Iowans will soon see bright yellow billboards marketing the event. As The Iowa Independent reported last ... 

Woman sues business, claims 'religious brainwashing' 
Beaver County Times 
The suit claims the company owners told other employees they "could not work with Yochum because she was an atheist." The suit alleges the defendants "willfully discriminated against Yochum when they terminated ... Yochum based on her religious beliefs ... 

Study Claims Religion Could Disappear 
International Business Times 
Paul "PZ" Myers, a professor of evolutionary biology at the University of Minnesota (and prominent atheist) wrote on his blog that the perceived utility metric might be a bit circular. That's because it is derived from the data and not measured ... 


Movie Review: Nora's Will 
However, upon meeting with Rabbi Jacowitz (Max Kerlow), Jose, who was born Jewish but embraces atheism, learns that due to the celebration of the Passover festivities, as well as a few other factors, he must wait 5 days to be able to carry out Nora's ... 

'Nora's Will' is a perverse pleasure | 3 stars 
Kansas City Star 
“Nora's Will” unfolds in Mexico City's Jewish community and stars Fernando Lujan as José, a grumpy atheist who was divorced from Nora 20 years ago but still lives across the street from her. José isn't all that surprised when on the brink of Passover ... 

Bill Maher: 'I just think I'm too controversial' 
Los Angeles Times 
First of all, it's a very religious country, and a lot of people would never vote for an outspoken atheist. And they just play it safe. I think in Emmy voting, only 10 people get to vote on the actual winner. The nominations come from the academy as a ...,0,3227477.story 

'Nora's Will' 
During that time, José, who was born Jewish but is a militant atheist, fights with Nora's inflexible strict-constructionist rabbi, offers him a sausage pizza and refuses to apologize when the rabbi becomes insulted. Meanwhile a host of other involved ... 


Texas lawmaker's bill protects evolution nonbelievers from discrimination 
Bill Zedler would block higher education institutions from discriminating against or penalizing teachers or students based on their research into intelligent design or other theories that disagree with evolution. Zedler said he filed the bill because ... 

Reactions to the antievolution bill in Florida 
National Center for Science Education 
In 2009, before introducing a similar bill, Wise announced his intention to introduce a bill requiring "intelligent design" to be taught in Florida's public schools. Now, discussing SB 1854 with a reporter for the Tampa Tribune (March 13, 2011), ... 

Creationism in classroom won't get teacher fired 
Chicago Tribune 
“What about the kids in that class that had to listen to the entire unit in evolution and they were co-taught creationism?” Millar said. “My daughter has been devastated by this. It is an outrage that this teacher has lost all effectiveness and all ...,0,6553595.story 

Teacher who taught creationism keeps job 
Chicago Sun-Times 
Teacher Beau Schaefer, described as a “longstanding District 128 educator,'' discussed creationism in a classroom lesson about evolution, officials said, but he has been instructed not to do so in the future and he will not lose his job. ... 

Atheist advocate plans to back parents who want instructor fired for teaching ... 
Sherman is approaching the 25th anniversary of his pro-atheist advocacy work, which began with a presentation at the Zion City Council, when he asked the board to remove the Christian symbol of the cross from the city seal, which has since been removed ... 

Atheist wants science teacher fired 
Chicago Tribune 
Atheist activist Rob Sherman is expected to make an appearance in an attempt to get the creationist-promoting teacher fired. District officials have said they have spoken with science teacher Beau Schaefer and confirmed that he was teaching creationist ...,0,5003950.story 

LHS Teacher Teaching Creationism, 'Remediable Behavior' 
The issue first came to light when Rob Sherman, an atheist advocate, appeared at February's school board meeting asking board members to look into whether or not Schaefer had been teaching creationism to his students. At the time, Sherman said he had ... 


New Insight Into the Brain's Ability to Reorganize Itself 
ScienceDaily (Mar. 19, 2011) — When Geoffrey Murphy, Ph.D., talks about plastic structures, he's not talking about the same thing as Mr. McGuire in The Graduate. To Murphy, an associate professor of molecular and integrative physiology at the University of Michigan Medical School, plasticity refers to the brain's ability to change as we learn... 

Secrets of Plague Revealed Through Super-Resolution Microscopy Technique 
ScienceDaily (Mar. 19, 2011) — In work that is pushing the "diffraction barrier" associated with microscopic imaging of living cells, researchers at Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, NM demonstrated the power of a new super-resolution microscopy technique called Stochastic Optical Reconstruction Microscopy (STORM), which can simultaneously image multiple molecules in living immune cells... 

World Record for DNA Analysis 
ScienceDaily (Mar. 19, 2011) — Until recently, researchers have been limited to running just a few DNA samples at a time, at a cost of SEK 100,000 (c. USD 16,000) per run. Now researchers at the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) in Stockholm have hit upon a new method that allows 5,000 samples to be run at the same time and at the same price. This cuts the cost per sample result considerably and constitutes a world record for the number of tests run in a single DNA sequencing analysis... 

Human Prejudice Has Ancient Evolutionary Roots 
ScienceDaily (Mar. 18, 2011) — The tendency to perceive others as "us versus them" isn't exclusively human but appears to be shared by our primate cousins, a new study led by Yale researchers has found... 

Quantum Pen for Single Atoms Is a Big Step Toward Large-Scale Quantum Computing 
ScienceDaily (Mar. 18, 2011) — Physicists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics succeeded in manipulating atoms individually in a lattice of light and in arranging them in arbitrary patterns. These results are an important step towards large scale quantum computing and for the simulation of condensed matter systems... 

Cranky? On a Diet? How Self-Control Leads to Anger 
ScienceDaily (Mar. 18, 2011) — People who make an effort to exert self-control are attracted to aggressive art and public policy appeals, according to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research. They also don't appreciate messages that nag them to control their behavior... 

Depression Drugs -- SSRIs -- May Reorganize Brain Plasticity, New Research Suggests 
ScienceDaily (Mar. 18, 2011) — Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) such as Prozac are regularly used to treat severe anxiety and depression. They work by immediately increasing the amount of serotonin in the brain and by causing long term changes in brain function. However it can take weeks of treatment before a patient feels any effect and both beneficial effects and side effects can persist after treatment is stopped... 

NASA's MESSENGER Spacecraft Begins Historic Orbit Around Mercury 
ScienceDaily (Mar. 18, 2011) — NASA's MESSENGER spacecraft successfully achieved orbit around Mercury at approximately 9 p.m. EDT Thursday. This marks the first time a spacecraft has accomplished this engineering and scientific milestone at our solar system's innermost planet... 

Adults With Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Score High in Creativity 
ScienceDaily (Mar. 17, 2011) — Young adults with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder showed more creativity compared with those who did not have ADHD, a new study shows... 


Cross on Gulf State Park Beach removed by new superintendent (blog) 
As one of his first acts as superintendent of Gulf State Park, Mike Guinn removed the cross from the state land because of “separation of church and state,” he said. But Guinn, who was named to the position March 1, acknowledged Friday that he may have ... 

Watchdog group sends letter to Senate leaders over Campbell prayer 
Minnesota Independent 
By Andy Birkey | 03.21.11 | 4:19 pm The watchdog group Americans United for the Separation of Church and State sent a letter to Minnesota Senate leadership Monday warning the chamber that Pastor Dennis Campbell's prayer last week was unconstitutional. ... 

Christie's charter school agenda fuels anger over NJ school budgets 
The Star-Ledger - (blog) 
Frances Wood, Highland Park's superintendent, says the board is negotiating with Tikun Olam's sponsors to keep it from filing a third application, but the negotiations themselves raised questions about separation of church and state. ... 

Judge rejects Amish request to deal privately with alleged Ponzi schemer 
Washington Post 
Citing the separation of church and state, federal bankruptcy judge Russ Kendig said it would be unconstitutional for the court to dismiss the case and cede control of the matter to a religious group. “The debtor in this case is clearly asking this ... 

Republican school vouchers proposal may violate Minnesota Constitution 
Minnesota Independent 
In several states where vouchers have been attempted, they've been ruled unconstitutional because they violate the separation of church and state and clauses that mandate uniform access to education. Though the US Supreme Court has ruled vouchers ... 

School Committee Approves Placard Stating Historical Significance of Banner 
The ACLU has claimed that because the banner is addressed to “Our Heavenly Father” it is unconstitutional and violates the principle of separation of church and state. Lombardi said that lawyers for both sides have agreed to meet before the case is ... 

Bishops attack Greens 
Northern Rivers Echo 
I think there should be a separation between church and state.” She said the Greens would definitely not slash funding to Catholic schools by 85%, and that their policy on drugs recognises that “legal and illegal drugs have adverse health, ... 

ACLU Forces Limestone County Schools to Revisit Policies on Religion 
The American Civil Liberties Union is now involved in the separation of church and state in Limestone County Schools. It comes after a parent claimed staff members at an elementary school in Athens were handing out Bibles and promoting Creationism. ...,0,197939.story 

ACLU confronts Limestone County Schools over Bibles 
I know there is a separation of church and state, but if its there and the students can read it I have no problem at all," agreed Randy Woodruff. The ACLU also raised concerns that a 5th grade teacher promoted creationism in the classroom. ... 


Atheist Julia challenges mad monk Tony 
The Australian 
SELF-PROCLAIMED atheist Julia Gillard has moved to broaden her appeal to people of faith by challenging Tony Abbott to a contest in reciting scripture. A day after stating her opposition to same-sex marriage and euthanasia, the Prime Minister yesterday ...