THE   FOCUS
centerforatheism.org
                   
 
 
 
 
 
         
 
 
         
 
                   
 
  
 
  
 
        
 
 
 
         
                       

APRIL 22, 2011
Volume 7, Issue 16
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: 
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Comments, suggestions and subscription:
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FEATURED ARTICLES 

Some Rabbinical Students to Get State Tuition Aid 
New York Times 
Joseph Conn, a spokesman for the Washington-based Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, said his group had tracked legislative efforts to extend state tuition aid to religious students in New York. “By burying this measure in a ... 
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/31/nyregion/31tuition.html?_r=1 

ATHEISM 

Pa. woman's federal lawsuit claims company's sales training was religious ... 
The Republic 
JOE MANDAK AP PITTSBURGH — A woman claims in a federal lawsuit that she was branded an "atheist," and more or less fired by a western Pennsylvania bathroom remodeling business for objecting to sales training she contends amounted to "religious ... 
http://www.therepublic.com/view/story/1f4f5a798fa74f7793cef8220475f5c2/PA--Training-Or-Indoctrination/ 

Pa. woman, firm disagree on sales training 
WFMJ 
AP - March 25, 2011 3:35 PM ET PITTSBURGH (AP) - A woman claims in a federal lawsuit that she was branded an "atheist," and more or less fired by a western Pennsylvania bathroom remodeling business for objecting to sales training she contends amounted ... 
http://www.wfmj.com/Global/story.asp?S=14322894 

Billboards precede atheist meeting 
DesMoinesRegister.com 
Five billboards, including this one on Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway near Prospect Road, promote the National Convention of American Atheists in Des Moines. / JEFF GLAZE/THE REGISTER Five billboards with the message "You Know There Is No God - We Know ... 
http://www.desmoinesregister.com/article/20110330/NEWS/103300346/-1/SPORTS12/Billboards-precede-atheist-meeting 

Godless in Tumourville: Christopher Hitchens interview 
Telegraph.co.uk 
God Is Not Great changed all, making him a champion of the so-called New Atheism, alongside such celebrated non-believers as Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett and Sam Harris (they have anointed themselves, with what in Hitchens's case looks like grim ... 
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/8388695/Godless-in-Tumourville-Christopher-Hitchens-interview.html 

Atheists use billboards to create interest in their convention 
Radio Iowa 
The ads were paid for by the American Atheists and read: “You know there is no God…we know you're right.” The American Atheists National Convention is scheduled for April 21-24 in Des Moines. Randy Henderson, president of Iowa Atheists and Free ... 
http://www.radioiowa.com/2011/03/30/atheists-use-billboards-to-create-interest-in-their-convention/ 

Atheist transit ads in Kamloops a first in BC 
BCLocalNews 
By Christopher Foulds - Kamloops This Week Two Kamloops buses will be the first in BC to carry the controversial messages promoting atheism. BC Transit has approved the ads, which will be seen on two buses in Kamloops for four weeks, beginning the week ... 
http://www.bclocalnews.com/news/119022939.html 

One in four shuns religion in Switzerland 
swissinfo.ch 
However, as the authors of the National Science Foundation study note, a lack of religious affiliation does not necessarily translate into atheism. “Official membership of a religious denomination – or a lack thereof – does not say anything about the ... 
http://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/swiss_news/One_in_four_shuns_religion_in_Switzerland.html?cid=29877728 

BOOKS, FILM, THEATRE, TV, YOU TUBE 

A Wicked Company 
Financial Times 
This group constituted the Radical Enlightenment, a philosophical school driven by uncompromising atheism and which has been half-forgotten in the wake of what Blom calls the victory of the “soft Enlightenment” – the legacy of Rousseau and Voltaire, ... 
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/ae64dff8-5663-11e0-84e9-00144feab49a.html#axzz1JbifOKBH 

Ricky Gervais Discusses Golden Globes, 'The Office' and Atheism 
RollingStone.com 
He's been avowed atheist ever since he was eight. It wound up helping him when a test audience gave an early version of The Office the lowest rating in the history of the BBC. He refused to change a word of it. "I've always done exactly what I wanted," ... 
http://www.rollingstone.com/culture/news/ricky-gervais-discusses-golden-globes-the-office-and-atheism-20110330 

EVOLUTION, CREATIONISM, I.D. 

Creationism in the Alabama standards? 
National Center for Science Education 
Michael Sibley, the department's director of communications, told Fox News (March 24, 2011) by e-mail that the Alabama Course of Study, while not addressing creationism individually, "deals with Theories of Evolution," adding, "Creationism is one of ... 
http://ncse.com/news/2011/03/creationism-alabama-standards-006570 

Bill to protect teachers' allowing students' critique of evolution advances in ... 
The Republic 
A proposal that protects teachers in Tennessee from being disciplined for allowing students to critique scientific theories — such as evolution — is headed for a full House vote. The measure sponsored by Republican Rep. Bill Dunn of Knoxville passed ... 
http://www.therepublic.com/view/story/ae8539b6be274df4aff8c19fba7202a8/TN-XGR--Evolution-Controversy/ 

Bill to Debate Evolution Theory Ready for House Floor 
Nashville Public Radio 
Opponents haven't been able to slow down a bill in the state legislature that would allow public school teachers to discuss theories at odds with the theory of evolution. As worded, the bill invites “critical thinking” about scientific theories. ... 
http://wpln.org/?p=25532 

Antievolution bill in New Mexico dies 
National Center for Science Education 
... claimed that the bill was his own, but a detailed comparison provided by New Mexicans for Science and Reason revealed the similarity of HB 302 to model bills drafted by the Discovery Institute and Intelligent Design Network New Mexico. ... 
http://ncse.com/news/2011/03/antievolution-bill-new-mexico-dies-006587 

Death anxiety prompts people to believe in intelligent design, reject ... 
EurekAlert (press release) 
Researchers at the University of British Columbia and Union College (Schenectady, NY) have found that people's death anxiety can influence them to support theories of intelligent design and reject evolutionary theory. The lead author is UBC Psychology ... 
http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2011-03/uobc-dap032511.php 

Death Anxiety Shapes Views on Evolution 
Miller-McCune.com 
In contrast, the relatively new notion of intelligent design theory implies “there is a purpose to the human enterprise.” Although there is little evidence to back it up, intelligent design has a strong emotional pull: It “may calm existential concerns ... 
http://www.miller-mccune.com/culture-society/death-anxiety-shapes-views-on-evolution-29580/ 

Watson says bill not attack on evolution 
Chattanooga Times Free Press 
But there are competing ideas” such as creationism and intelligent design. He said ideas don't necessarily equate to scientific theory and may fall more into areas such as philosophy or religion. “They may not meet the scientific standard, ... 
http://timesfreepress.com/news/2011/mar/31/watson-says-bill-not-attack-evolution/ 

SCIENCE 

New Instrument Keeps an 'Eye' on Nanoparticles 
ScienceDaily (Mar. 26, 2011) — Precision measurement in the world of nanoparticles has now become a possibility, thanks to scientists at UC Santa Barbara... 
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110306141659.htm 

Universal Property of Music Discovered 
ScienceDaily (Mar. 25, 2011) — Researchers at the Institute for Logic, Language and Computation (ILLC) of the University of Amsterdam have discovered a universal property of musical scales. Until now it was assumed that the only thing scales throughout the world have in common is the octave... 
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110325102008.htm 

How Well Do You Know Your Friends? 
ScienceDaily (Mar. 25, 2011) — How does your best friend feel when people act needy? Or, about people being dishonest? What do they think when others seem uncomfortable in social situations? According to an upcoming study in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, if you don't know - your relationship may pay a price... 
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110325164219.htm 

Exploding Stars and Stripes: Pattern of X-Ray 'Stripes' in Supernova Remnant Could Explain How Cosmic Rays Are Produced 
ScienceDaily (Mar. 25, 2011) — The discovery of a pattern of X-ray "stripes" in the remains of an exploded star may provide the first direct evidence that a cosmic event can accelerate particles to energies a hundred times higher than achieved by the most powerful particle accelerator on Earth... 
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110324103608.htm 

Matter Spotted a Millisecond from Black Hole -- But Is It Really Doomed? 
ScienceDaily (Mar. 25, 2011) — The European Space Agency's Integral gamma-ray observatory has spotted extremely hot matter just a millisecond before it plunges into the oblivion of a black hole. But is it really doomed? These unique observations suggest that some of the matter may be making a great escape... 
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110324153753.htm 

High-Temperature Superconductor Spills Secret: A New Phase of Matter? 
ScienceDaily (Mar. 25, 2011) — Scientists have found the strongest evidence yet that a puzzling gap in the electronic structures of some high-temperature superconductors could indicate a new phase of matter. Understanding this "pseudogap" has been a 20-year quest for researchers who are trying to control and improve these breakthrough materials, with the ultimate goal of finding superconductors that operate at room temperature... 
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110324153747.htm 

Religious Young Adults Become Obese by Middle Age: Cause May Be Unhealthy Food at Religious Activities 
ScienceDaily (Mar. 25, 2011) — Could it be the potato salad? Young adults who frequently attend religious activities are 50 percent more likely to become obese by middle age as young adults with no religious involvement, according to new Northwestern Medicine research. This is the first longitudinal study to examine the development of obesity in people with various degrees of religious involvement... 
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110324104145.htm 

Acupuncture for Pain No Better Than Placebo -- And Not Without Harm, Study Finds 
ScienceDaily (Mar. 25, 2011) — Although acupuncture is commonly used for pain control, doubts about its effectiveness and safety remain. Investigators from the Universities of Exeter & Plymouth (Exeter, UK) and the Korea Institute of Oriental Medicine (Daejeon, South Korea) critically evaluated systematic reviews of acupuncture as a treatment of pain in order to explore this question. Reporting in the April 2011 issue of PAIN®, they conclude that numerous systematic reviews have generated little truly convincing evidence that acupuncture is effective in reducing pain, and serious adverse effects continue to be reported... 
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110324104147.htm 

Losing a Parent Can Be Fatal 
ScienceDaily (Mar. 25, 2011) — The death of parents entails an increase in their children's risk of dying. This is shown in a new study performed by Mikael Rostila, a researcher at the Center for Health Equity Studies (CHESS) in Sweden, and Jan Saarela, a researcher at Åbo Akademi University in Finland. Those especially affected are younger children, and primarily if they lose their mother... 
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110323105313.htm 

SEPARATION CHURCH / STATE 

ACLU lawsuit alleges Nevada forces nongovernment marriage officiants to have ... 
The Republic 
The Las Vegas Sun reports the lead plaintiff, Raul Martinez, is an atheist and member of the American Humanist Association. The lawsuit says the county clerk has twice denied Martinez's application for authorization to perform marriages. ... 
http://www.therepublic.com/view/story/5219e8f0bb6b4ec0bd9302190a96e070/NV--Marriage-Officiants-Lawsuit/ 

ACLU sues state, county 
Las Vegas Review-Journal 
Three other plaintiffs join Claire Lichtenstein and Wertz: Raul Martinez, described in the lawsuit as an atheist and a member of the American Humanist Association who twice has been denied a certificate allowing him to solemnize marriages; ... 
http://www.lvrj.com/news/aclu-sues-state-county-118826849.html?ref=849 

AU, ACLU Join Ft. Bragg Fight for Rock Beyond Belief 
God Discussion 
Rock Beyond Belief would have featured performers and speakers who supported the themes of atheism, reason and science, including renowned biologist and speaker Richard Dawkins. Officials reportedly relegated the event to an indoor hall and required ... 
http://www.goddiscussion.com/43973/au-aclu-join-ft-bragg-fight-for-rock-beyond-belief/ 

Local group promotes non-religion 
abc11.com 
"We wanted to put a happier face on atheism and free-thinkers," Zumbach said. "There's so much negative press on us. We kind of get stereotyped as being angry old guys. We wanted to show that we are just like everybody else." The billboards will pop up ... 
http://abclocal.go.com/wtvd/story?section=news/local&id=8041628 

Bill offers tax credits to private school families 
UW Badger Herald 
When asked if the provisions in the bill to give tax credits specifically to parents whose children attend private parochial schools would challenge separation of church and state, Grothman said his bill did not imply state support for religious ... 
http://badgerherald.com/news/2011/03/24/bill_offers_tax_cred.php 

State Supreme Court receives arguments on FLDS trust ruling 
Salt Lake Tribune 
Sect members did nothing as a state judge reformed the trust to remove religion and appointed an accountant to run it. Members protested the takeover in 2008, arguing that the state had violated the separation between church and state. ... 
http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/home/51505238-76/court-state-supreme-trust.html.csp 

Arguments scheduled in RI church and state case 
Boston Globe 
The parents say this is unconstitutional and violates the separation of church and state. City officials deny any favoritism. The plaintiffs are represented by lawyers from the Rhode Island chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. ... 
http://www.boston.com/news/local/rhode_island/articles/2011/03/27/arguments_scheduled_in_ri_church_and_state_case/ 

National debate continues over Bible education in public schools 
Inland Valley Daily Bulletin 
Similar public school courses in the United States have generated controversy and debate as some people consider such curriculum in public schools as a violation of the separation of church and state. The teaching of religion isn't illegal in public ... 
http://www.dailybulletin.com/ci_17707065 

'In God We Trust' to be posted in county buildings 
Joplin Globe 
Norman Rouse, legal counsel to the panel, said the action did not raise issues on the separation of church and state, because it followed a pattern already set by the federal government. Noting Wampler's letter to the panel, he cited the motto on some ... 
http://www.joplinglobe.com/local/x1623045398/-In-God-We-Trust-to-be-posted-in-county-buildings 

The Talon: Graduation Stays At Church 
my.hsj.org 
In October 2010, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, a protest group in Washington, sent a letter to the Cherokee County School District urging it to change the location of graduation. In the packed auditorium, after an hour of ... 
http://my.hsj.org/Schools/Newspaper/tabid/100/view/frontpage/articleid/427044/newspaperid/2526/Graduation_Stays_At_Church.aspx 

Indiana GOP pushes ahead with big voucher program 
The Associated Press 
Voucher critics have watched the debate with alarm, fearing the potential harm to public schools and perceived threats to the separation of church and state. "It's a blitzkrieg," said Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of Freedom From Religion ... 
http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5jB8t78VgTgtbac2aeRA2INfm2-_A?docId=07462af907ac488383ed484a7b032131 

As Pledge Returns to PS 29, Parents Hope For a Teachable Moment 
Patch.com 
While kindergartners and first graders are likely "too young to understand the concept of separation of church and state," Buston hopes that PS 29 teaches older students about this issue. Principal Woods did not return calls for comment, but at the PTA ... 
http://carrollgardens.patch.com/articles/as-pledge-returns-to-ps-29-parents-hope-for-a-teachable-moment 

Group takes issue with school displays 
Clanton Advertiser 
Donnelly decision ruled), any notion that this phrase poses 'a real danger of establishment of a state church is farfetched indeed.'” After receiving the response letter from Walker, FFRF sent out an action alert asking their members across the state ... 
http://www.clantonadvertiser.com/2011/03/29/group-takes-issue-with-school-displays/ 

Grendel's Den celebrates Supreme Court win and 40 years in Harvard Square 
Boston Globe 
The case of separation of church and state went all the way to the US Supreme Court before Grendel's owners Herbert and the late Sue Kuelzer finally prevailed. “It has become the landmark precedent in the law of separation of church and state because ... 
http://www.boston.com/yourtown/news/cambridge/2011/03/grendels_den_celebrates_suprem.html 

NJ battle intensifies over funding for themed charter schools 
The Star-Ledger - NJ.com 
DePierro said he had not visited Hatikvah or reviewed its curriculum, but he cautioned that some schools may "walk a fine line with separation of church and state." "How do you separate Hebrew culture from Judaism? I think that might be tough to do," ... 
http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2011/03/nj_battle_intensifies_over_fun.html 

Group administers Indiana federally-funded marriage program while leading push ... 
The American Independent 
Rob Boston, senior policy analyst at Americans United for Separation of Church and State told The American Independent it was the first time that he'd seen such an official partnership between a right-wing Christian organization and a state government ... 
http://www.americanindependent.com/176357/group-administers-indiana-federally-funded-marriage-program-while-leading-push-for-anti-gay-marriage-amendment 

No decision yet in RI church and state case 
Boston Globe 
The parents, represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, say this violates the separation of church and state. City officials deny any favoritism. Attorneys for the plaintiffs and defendants presented arguments for summary judgment in US ... 
http://www.boston.com/news/local/rhode_island/articles/2011/03/31/arguments_scheduled_in_ri_church_and_state_case/ 

Federal employees demand policy ruling on religious displays in national parks 
Denver Post 
We want to be respectful of the separation of church and state, but it's sometimes difficult to tell the history of the US without preserving the role religion has played." For example, Doyle said, Civil Rights hero Martin Luther King Jr.'s Ebenezer ... 
http://www.denverpost.com/breakingnews/ci_17745502 

School vouchers for DC parents passes US House 
Minnesota Independent 
“It's been clear that this isn't about helping DC's kids, but about a political ideology that opposes public education and church-state separation… Taxpayers should never be forced to support religion; that violates the fundamental right of conscience ... 
http://minnesotaindependent.com/79639/school-vouchers-for-d-c-parents-passes-u-s-house 

MISCELLANEOUS 

None 



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