THE   FOCUS
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NOVEMBER 21, 2011
Volume 7, Issue 30
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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FEATURED ARTICLES

Ark. agency investigating whether legislator's state funds promote religion at ...
The Republic
The inspection took place because a national organization that promotes separation of church and state requested an investigation of the preschool, which receives state grants, said Human Services Department spokesman Amy Webb. ...
http://www.therepublic.com/view/story/504f02a8017d42a0b630b46a098d23e4/AR--Legislators-Preschool-Investigation/

Atheists in military seek recognition
Baltimore Sun
So when he was asked whether he believed his life had a lasting purpose, Jean, an atheist, saw no choice but to say no. Those and other responses, Jean says, won him a trip to see the post chaplain, who berated him for his lack of faith. ...
http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/bs-md-fort-meade-atheists-20111105,0,5047508.story

ATHEISM

At religious campuses, atheist groups operate underground
USA Today
The Secular Student Alliance, a national organization of nontheistic students with 320 campus chapters, reports at least two other religious universities —Notre Dame and Baylor — have rejected clubs for atheist, agnostic, humanist and other ...
http://www.usatoday.com/news/religion/story/2011-11-04/atheist-college-campus/51073822/1

Atheist Leaders Ousted by Group
The Ledger
By Rick Rousos LAKELAND | Lakeland residents EllenBeth Wachs and John Kieffer have been ousted from their managerial positions with Atheists of Florida — and as members of that statewide organization. The action involving Kieffer, Atheists of Florida ...
http://www.theledger.com/article/20111107/NEWS/111109489?Title=Atheist-Leaders-Ousted-by-Group-

Atheist at Ft. Meade seeks 'lay leader' status
WTOP
BALTIMORE (AP) - An Army captain at Fort Meade says he's an atheist -- and he wants official recognition as a humanist lay leader, on par with the Christian, Jewish and Muslim lay leaders who help military chaplains serve the troops. Capt. ...
http://www.wtop.com/?nid=41&sid=2622594

Skeptics in the Pub offers place for questioners
HollandSentinel.com
He began to break away from the Christian faith he'd grown up with, eventually declaring himself an atheist. Van Haitsma and friend Jeff Wolfgang knew they couldn't be the only ones in the Holland area searching outside church walls for answers to ...
http://www.hollandsentinel.com/feature/x76451654/Skeptics-in-the-Pub-offers-place-for-questioners

Former Atheist Group Official Wachs Files Suit With City About Records Request
The Ledger
EllenBeth Wachs, an atheist who sued the city of Lakeland for the city's practice of having opening prayer at its meetings, has filed a lawsuit claiming the city violated a public records request. Wachs said the city denied a request she made in ...
http://www.theledger.com/article/20111109/NEWS/111109290?Title=Former-Atheist-Group-Official-Wachs-Files-Suit-With-City-About-Records-Request-

BOOKS, FILM, THEATRE, TV, YOU TUBE

Tim Minchin
Financial Times
If you are an atheist living in Dallas, I am like a sip of water. They are so keen, so emotional, they meet me afterwards and they are crying.” He almost seems to frighten himself as he describes the scale of the occasion. “But I do this stuff because ...
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/dadba4fc-048e-11e1-ac2a-00144feabdc0.html?ftcamp=rss#axzz1dzVD5Pnu

Nora's Will (Menemsha Films, NR)
Play by Play
José at first resents being drawn into this complicated situation, not only because it involves his ex-wife, but also because he's become a confirmed atheist who becomes more than a little annoyed with the rabbi and his associates who arrive to carry ...
http://www.playbackstl.com/dvd-reviews/11049-noras-will-menemsha-films-nr

Tim Minchin: Mocking God in the heart of Texas
The Guardian
When Tim Minchin – actor, comedian, confirmed atheist – decided to take his comedy to America's Bible belt, we were concerned he might be burnt at the stake. Here, he describes what happened next… Don't cross me: Tim Minchin in Dallas, Texas. ...
http://www.guardian.co.uk/stage/2011/nov/06/tim-minchin-mocking-god-in-texas?newsfeed=true

Richard Herring's Christ On A Bike
Chortle
True, if you believe the Bible is the literal word of God, you might have issue with a pedantic atheist picking apart the omnipotent Creator's clumsy literary style and glaring inconsistencies – but for others it's a witty, irreverent deconstruction of ...
http://www.chortle.co.uk/dvds/2011/11/07/14261/richard_herrings_christ_on_a_bike

EVOLUTION, CREATIONISM, I.D.

None

SCIENCE

Hubble Directly Observes the Disk Around a Black Hole
ScienceDaily (Nov. 4, 2011) — A team of scientists has used the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope to observe a quasar accretion disc -- a brightly glowing disc of matter that is slowly being sucked into its galaxy's central black hole. Their study makes use of a novel technique that uses gravitational lensing to give an immense boost to the power of the telescope. The incredible precision of the method has allowed astronomers to directly measure the disc's size and plot the temperature across different parts of the disc...
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/11/111104091652.htm

Why Measles Spreads So Quickly
ScienceDaily (Nov. 2, 2011) — Mayo Clinic researchers have discovered why measles, perhaps the most contagious viral disease in the world, spreads so quickly. The virus emerges in the trachea of its host, provoking a cough that fills the air with particles ready to infect the next host. The findings may also help in the fight against ovarian, breast and lung cancers...
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/11/111102161038.htm

NASA Airborne Mission Maps Remote, Deteriorating Glaciers
ScienceDaily (Nov. 3, 2011) — NASA's airborne expedition over Antarctica this October and November has measured the change in glaciers vital to sea level rise projections and mapped others rarely traversed by humans...
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/11/111103155621.htm

City Lights Could Reveal E.T. Civilization
ScienceDaily (Nov. 3, 2011) — In the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, astronomers have hunted for radio signals and ultra-short laser pulses. In a new paper, Avi Loeb (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics) and Edwin Turner (Princeton University) suggest a new technique for finding aliens: look for their city lights. "Looking for alien cities would be a long shot, but wouldn't require extra resources. And if we succeed, it would change our perception of our place in the universe," said Loeb...
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/11/111103190356.htm

New International Space Station Camera Reveals the Cosmic Shore
ScienceDaily (Nov. 3, 2011) — Part of human fascination with space is the chance to look back at our own planet from afar. The unique vantage from the International Space Station affords a vista both breathtaking and scientifically illuminating...
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/11/111103155356.htm

11/11/11: Maya Scholar Debunks Doomsday Myths
ScienceDaily (Nov. 3, 2011) — University of Kansas anthropologist and Maya scholar John Hoopes and his students are watching predicted doomsday dates such as 11/11/11 and Dec. 21, 2012, with considerable skepticism...
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/11/111103143255.htm

Hybrid Power Plants Can Help Industry Go Green: Affordable Solar Option for Power Plants
ScienceDaily (Nov. 3, 2011) — Hybrid cars, powered by a mixture of gas and electricity, have become a practical way to "go green" on the roads. Now researchers at Tel Aviv University are applying the term "hybrid" to power plants as well...
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/11/111103120448.htm

Impulsive Versus Controlled Men: Disinhibited Brains and Disinhibited Behavior
ScienceDaily (Nov. 3, 2011) — Impulsive individuals tend to display aggressive behavior and have challenges ranging from drug and alcohol abuse, to problem gambling and difficult relationships. They are less able to adapt to different social situations. Impulsivity is also a common feature of psychiatric disorders. New research in Biological Psychiatry shows that people may react this way, in part, because they have lower levels of GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), the most important inhibitory neurotransmitter, in a specific part of their brain involved in regulating self-control...
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/11/111103120220.htm

Scientists Study 'Galaxy Zoo' Using Google Maps and Thousands of Volunteers
ScienceDaily (Nov. 3, 2011) — The reddest galaxies with the largest central bulb show the largest bars -- gigantic central columns of stars and dark matter -- according to a scientific study that used Google Maps to observe the sky. A group of volunteers of more than 200,000 participants of the galaxy classification project Galaxy Zoo contributed to this research...
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/11/111103081405.htm

SEPARATION CHURCH / STATE

Lawmaker to tackle highway cross issue
Daily Herald
Barnard has said the atheist's group agrees that state troopers who have died in the line of duty should be honored, but memorials should be on private land or carry a non-religious symbol. Wimmer countered that such decisions should be left to ...
http://www.heraldextra.com/news/state-and-regional/article_d50099ab-2559-5210-9b66-e2782f63e817.html

Lawmakers defend religious instruction in state-funded schools
Arkansas News
LeeWood Thomas of Little Rock, spokesman for the Central Arkansas Coalition of Reason, which recently won a court battle to have atheist signs placed on Little Rock buses, said he shares Americans United's concerns, though the coalition has not taken ...
http://arkansasnews.com/2011/11/07/lawmakers-defend-religious-instruction-in-state-funded-schools/

State Rep Accused Of Violating Separation Of Church And State
KUAR
State Representative Justin Harris owns Growing God's Kingdom daycare in West Fork. His business is coming under attack from a national group, Americans United for the Separation of Church and State. The group sent a letter to the Arkansas Department ...
http://www.kuar.org/kuarnews/39997-state-rep-accused-of-violating-separation-of-church-and-state.html

Lawmakers reaffirm 'In God We Trust' as US motto
HeraldNet
The move inevitably reopened a debate over separation of church and state -- the sort of social issue that has taken a backseat this year to the debt ceiling, budget deficit and the flagging economy. The resolution drew praise from Christian ...
http://heraldnet.com/article/20111105/NEWS02/711059950

Ark. agency investigating if school violated law
NECN
Americans United for Separation of Church and State asked the state to investigate whether Growing God's Kingdom, a preschool owned by Rep. Justin Harris, spends tax dollars it receives to promote religion, the Southwest Times Record ...
http://www.necn.com/11/07/11/Ark-agency-investigating-if-school-viola/landing_politics.html?&apID=c3a0461da11c47afac19115e30f58336

Whitefish Jesus statue opponents blasted with hate mail
KAJ18 Kalispell Montana News
And how is that supposed to make free thinkers and people who believe in separation of church and state in Montana feel? You shouldn't feel unsafe because you support separation of church and state." Other anonymous emails have threatened FFRF with ...
http://www.kaj18.com/news/whitefish-jesus-statue-opponents-blasted-with-hate-mail/#!prettyPhoto/0/

DHS Not Monitoring Religious Studies
Fort Smith Times Record
Amy Webb said DHS intends to address the issue in the wake of a complaint regarding Growing God's Kingdom, a preschool in West Fork owned by state Rep. Justin Harris, R-West Fork. Americans United for Separation of Church and State sent a letter to DHS ...
http://www.swtimes.com/state_news/article_40dba806-0a11-11e1-b7f4-001cc4c002e0.html

City council proposes using state motto for chambers
Norman Transcript
Some say displaying “In God We Trust” violates the separation of church and state. “It was a way to tone it down a little bit” Griffith said. “Not only are we representing our federal motto, but our state motto is there as well. ...
http://normantranscript.com/headlines/x867535165/City-council-proposes-using-state-motto-for-chambers

Group criticizes Ark. officials for approving state grant to school that ...
The Republic
AP FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — An attorney for a group that advocates the separation of church and state says Arkansas officials didn't do a good job when they awarded a grant to a West Fork private preschool that teaches Religion. Ian Smith with Americans ...
http://www.therepublic.com/view/story/38ddd82ea6bf4eccac346c779409a3fe/AR--Legislators-Preschools-Funding/

DHS Does Not Monitor First Amendment In Arkansas Preschools
KUAR
The DHS has since launched an investigation into Growing God's Kingdom, the preschool with the overtly religious name owned by Representative Justin Harris, due to a formal complaint filed by Americans United for the Separation of Church and State. ...
http://www.kuar.org/kuarnews/40526-dhs-does-not-monitor-first-amendment-in-arkansas-preschools.html

Partnership forms to help at-risk children with school
Tbo.com
But Affronti stressed the initiative is by no means faith-based, and it will adhere to separation of church and state standards. The city's sole role, he also noted, is to seek out volunteer tutors and perhaps financial support from various service ...
http://www2.tbo.com/news/community-news/2011/nov/09/nenewso2-partnership-forms-to-help-at-risk-childre-ar-301360/

Freedom From Religion Foundation: School prayer bill 'patently unconstitutional'
Florida Independent
The Foundation is a national nonprofit educational organization whose mission is to “protect the constitutional principle of separation between state and church,” the group explains in its letter. Last week, a state education committee amended Senate ...
http://floridaindependent.com/56255/florida-school-prayer

Johnson County settles Ten Commandments suit, will allow church-state ...
The Republic
Stewart's display, which was not allowed, consists of posters titled "On the Legal History of the Separation of Church and State" and "The Ten Commandments Are Not the Foundation of American Law." The latter contains the statement, "The primary source ...
http://www.therepublic.com/view/story/74f393e7dc9e413eb2ab9a866994e69c/TN--Church-and-State/

NC Supreme Court upholds college's police powers
DavidsonNews.net
But in 2008, she appealed and challenged the authority of the campus police department, saying the state's certification of the department violated the separation of church and state. Campus police departments, including Davidson College's, ...
http://davidsonnews.net/blog/2011/11/10/n-c-supreme-court-upholds-colleges-police-powers/

MISCELLANEOUS

Pastafarianism to be taught in Creationist Faith Schools
The Spoof (satire)
"For years we have campaigned for Intelligent Design to be taught alongside evolution in school biology classes only to be knocked back time and time again. The first time Rasta Pasta, the head of Pastafarianism, asks for Pastafarianism to be taught ...
http://www.thespoof.com/news/spoof.cfm?headline=s2i101581
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