Sioux Falls Atheists
Sioux Falls Atheists and Atheism, Agnostics and Humanism

51 Atheism & Humanism News Articles
for July 2016
Click on the links below to get the full story from its source

7-31-16 Early childhood education matters — here's how to make it great
Early childhood education matters — here's how to make it great
A roadmap to building a high-quality early childhood education system. By the time a low-income child enters kindergarten in America, they're already woefully lagging their more advantaged peers — 11 months behind in math and 13 months behind in reading, according to a recent report from the Center for American Progress. The figure from the CAP report — "How Much Can High-Quality Universal Pre-K Reduce Achievement Gaps?" — illustrates the gulf between both low- and high-income children and minority and white children. And those gaps only get wider as the years go on — to increasingly more significant effect. But early childhood education has the potential to change all of that. The CAP report estimates that a high-quality, universal pre-K program would essentially close the reading achievement gap and dramatically reduce the math achievement gap (by 48 percent for black children and 78 percent for Hispanic kids). And politicians across the spectrum have hopped on the early education bandwagon.

7-29-16 Easy Rider for Hell
Easy Rider for Hell
A New York preacher is spreading the word of God—by riding his motorbike through fire. John “Mercury” Morgan, a former circus performer, last week wowed his Rochester congregation by jumping his bike over a line of cars and through a burning wall. Morgan, 51, believes his death-defying stunts powerfully illustrate his religious message. “The jump is actually symbolic,” he explained. “The burning wall represents what waits for you at the end of your life if you don’t know the Lord.”

7-29-16 Seven dead from terrorist attacks ever year, but over 1,400 dead from mass shootings every year
Seven dead from terrorist attacks ever year, but over 1,400 dead every year from mass shooting
“Since Sept. 11, 2001, fewer than 100 people have died in jihadist attacks in the United States, according to the New America Foundation, a think tank. That’s about the same number of deaths from motor-vehicle accidents every day. But terrorism feels menacing and personal in a way that even a six-car pileup does not, and so it receives disproportionate coverage. In December 2015, Americans named terrorism the country’s most important problem. The media’s emphasis on tragedy and calamity has no obvious solution. Should NPR’s Morning Edition begin every hour by reading the names of Americans who died in car accidents the previous day?” (Webmaster's comment: Mass shootings are the true terrorism in this country, not terrorists attacks.)

7-29-16 Time to restrict automatic weapons?
Time to restrict automatic weapons?
55% of Americans believe that restrictions on gun ownership do not infringe on the constitutional right to bear arms. 43% say they do. 57% favor a nationwide ban on assault weapons, while 25% are opposed. 73% favor universal background checks. (Webmaster's comment: They have one use really, killing people!)

7-29-16 To be happy, do what you love
To be happy, do what you love
Money is nice, but finding a career you love is priceless, said Robert Frank. Social scientists have demonstrated repeatedly that “more money doesn’t provide a straightforward increase in happiness.” That’s why, when students ask me for career advice, I ask whether any activity has ever absorbed them so completely that they lost track of time. Happiness researchers call this “flow,” and it’s “one of the most deeply satisfying human psychological states.” Workers whose jobs allow them to experience substantial periods of flow are already “among the most fortunate people on the planet.” But there’s also an economic reason to embrace flow. The very best jobs, with good pay and attractive working conditions, go to experts in their field. Because “many thousands of hours of difficult practice are required for true expertise at any task,” you’re unlikely to attain mastery of something unless it’s a task “you love for its own sake.” Over the years, workers who experience flow are more likely to develop deep expertise in whatever it is they’re doing, increasing the odds of a bigger salary, greater autonomy at work, and, ultimately, deeper job satisfaction. There’s no guarantee this will happen, of course, but in the meantime, “you’ll enjoy the considerable proportion of your life that you spend at work, which is much more than billions of others can say.”

7-29-16 Twitter struggles with hate campaigns
Twitter struggles with hate campaigns
The reign of one of Twitter’s most notorious trolls is over, said Mike Isaac in The New York Times. Last week, the social network permanently banned Breitbart.com technology editor Milo Yiannopoulos after the right-wing provocateur “rallied and directed” a campaign of racist and sexist harassment against Ghostbusters star Leslie Jones. Ghostbusters’ all-female reboot has been the target of online vitriol for months, but Jones, who is black, has been singled out for particularly vicious attacks in recent weeks. Egged on by Yiannopoulos, hundreds of anonymous Twitter accounts recently bombarded Jones with vile tweets, as well as violent and pornographic images, comparing her, for instance, to Harambe, the gorilla shot dead this year at a Cincinnati zoo.

7-29-16 Rampant road rage
Rampant road rage
Four out of five U.S. drivers experienced road rage over the past year, a new AAA Foundation study shows, and 90 percent feel threatened by such aggression. Based on a survey of 2,705 licensed drivers, researchers estimate that more than 50 percent the nation’s 210 million drivers holler at other motorists or purposefully tailgate them, while 45 percent honk out of fury or frustration. Drivers also admit to cutting people off or preventing other cars from changing lanes. The survey also shows that about 4 percent of all drivers—roughly 8 million people—have gone so far as intentionally ramming other cars or leaving their own vehicle to confront another driver. Road rage also inspires more than a few obscene gestures—a practice 30 percent more common among drivers in the Northeast. The risks are significant: The study showed that 56 percent of fatal car accidents—which typically kill 40,000 Americans each year—involved aggressive driving. Researchers advise motorists to find their happy place behind the wheel. “Be tolerant,” AAA’s Jake Nelson tells NBCNews.com. “Don’t engage; focus on getting to your destination safely.” (Webmaster's comment: More Hate!)

7-29-16 Revisionist history,
Revisionist history,
Revisionist history, after Fox News host Bill O’Reilly responded to Michelle Obama’s comment that she was proud to see her African-American daughters grow up “in a house built by slaves.” O’Reilly said that while that was historically accurate, the slaves were “well fed and had decent lodging.” (Webmaster's comment: The conservatives will never stop supporting slavery.)

7-29-16 Gay activist Harvey Milk 'to be honoured with US Navy ship'
Gay activist Harvey Milk 'to be honoured with US Navy ship'
The US Navy is set to name a ship after gay rights activist and politician Harvey Milk, according to a report by the US Naval Institute News. The tanker, which is yet to be built, will be called the USNS Harvey Milk, USNI News said. It cited a notification signed by Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus. Milk was one of the first openly gay politicians in the US and was killed a year after winning election to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. He served in the US Navy in his youth as a diving officer during the Korean War before being honourably discharged.

7-29-16 Australian TV host Karl Stefanovic sorry for 'ignorant' jokes
Australian TV host Karl Stefanovic sorry for 'ignorant' jokes
One of Australia's most popular TV presenters has offered a lengthy apology after using an "ignorant jibe" considered offensive to transgender people. Karl Stefanovic, the award-winning host of the Nine Network's Today morning show, is famous for his awkward interviews, on-air pranks and appearing on television while inebriated. But in an apology stretching for three minutes, he has admitted to overstepping the mark after a series of off-colour jokes during Thursday's show. During a live cross, a Nine reporter described how she and a cameraman were attacked by "transvestites" shortly after arriving in Rio de Janeiro to cover the Olympics. This prompted Stefanovic to make a series of cross-dressing themed jokes, including a comment that the cameraman was "no stranger to the ways of the tranny".

7-28-16 Less Than Half in U.S. OK With Treatment of Immigrants, Arabs
Less Than Half in U.S. OK With Treatment of Immigrants, Arabs
Among six key groups in society, Americans are least satisfied with the way Arabs and immigrants are treated in the U.S. In contrast, 75% of Americans are satisfied with the way Asians are treated -- the highest satisfaction level. Among six key groups in society, Americans are least satisfied with the way Arabs and immigrants are treated in the U.S. Less than half of Americans are satisfied with the treatment of either group. In contrast, Americans are most satisfied with the way Asians are treated (75% very or somewhat satisfied). A slim majority, 51%, are satisfied with the treatment of blacks.

  • 45% in U.S. satisfied with how Arabs treated; 43% for immigrants
  • Whites more satisfied than blacks with blacks' treatment
  • Hispanics least likely to be satisfied with how immigrants are treated
  Very/Somewhat Satisfied
  2015 2016
Asians 77% 75%
Women 64% 63%
Hispanics 58% 54%
Blacks 49% 51%
Arabs 49% 45%
Immigrants 44% 43%

 

7-25-16 We’re discovering new ways to detect if someone is lying
We’re discovering new ways to detect if someone is lying
Eye contact and language cues really can give away whether a person is telling a fib - but we usually aren’t much better at guessing than if we just flipped a coin. Can you tell if someone is lying? Our ability to spot a lie is only just better than guessing with the flip of a coin. But, surprisingly, it’s easier to tell whether a person is fibbing if they are wearing a veil, suggests a fresh study. The experiment was devised by researchers at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology in Canada, and the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands. They filmed two videos of a woman watching a stranger’s bag, one of which showed the woman stealing items from it. They then played one or the other video separately to female volunteers designated as “witnesses”. When the researchers then played these video testimonies to other volunteers, they found that they were much better at telling whether a woman was lying or not if she was wearing a hijab or niqab.

7-24-16 Being Muslim in America
Being Muslim in America
Islam in the U.S. has a long, rich history, but fears of terrorism complicate the future. Here's everything you need to know. The Pew Research Center estimates that 3.3 million Muslims live in the U.S., which makes Islam the nation's third-largest faith, behind Christianity and Judaism. It's a diverse population primarily divided among African-Americans, South Asians, and Arabs, and a well-educated one: About 40 percent of U.S. Muslims hold college degrees, as opposed to 29 percent of Americans overall. A 2011 Pew survey found them "highly assimilated into American society and largely content with their lives." More than 80 percent of U.S. Muslims expressed satisfaction with life in America, and 63 percent said they felt no conflict "between being a devout Muslim and living in a modern society." Subjects include: How many Americans are Muslims? When did Islam first come to America? How well have Muslims fit in? Still, isn't radicalization a concern? How extensive is the problem? Will Muslims be accepted? A Muslim majority in Michigan. (Webmaster's comment: We have no more problems with Muslims than we do with Christians or members of any religion.)

7-22-16 Vietnam's horrific secret prisons
Vietnam's horrific secret prisons
A recent report on Vietnam by Amnesty International has shone a damning light into the horrific treatment prisoners receive in the country's vast network of secret prisons and detention centers. Bloggers and online activists are among those subject to solitary confinement, the denial of medical treatment, and disciplinary prison transfers. The report, "Prisons within Prisons: Torture and ill-treatment of prisoners of conscience 'in Viet Nam," details the real-life horror endured by some of those imprisoned by the socialist republic. It drew on more than 150 hours of interviews with 18 former detainees who were locked up for between one month and a decade. Despite Vietnam being a signatory to the United Nations convention against torture, AI reports that some of the former prisoners they interviewed were nonetheless beaten and subject to extremely inhumane treatment while incarcerated. (Webmaster's comment: The mass killing of 3 million innocent civilian Vietnamese, Cambodian, and Laotian men, women, and children by America as part of it's "Kill Anything That Moves" terrorist military policy, along with its mass bombing of peasant villages with naplam - no different than the burning alive of the Russian peasant villagers in their Churches and Synagogues by the Nazi's invading Russia, were some of the worst war crimes of the 20th century. But the current Vietnam government's treatment of it's own people is hardly better.)

7-22-16 David Duke, former Ku Klux Klan leader, to run for Congress
David Duke, former Ku Klux Klan leader, to run for Congress
David Duke - a former leader of the Ku Klux Klan - has launched a campaign for an open seat in the US Senate. Duke is one of more than 20 candidates seeking the seat vacated by Republican Senator David Vitter of Louisiana. The white nationalist has been an outspoken supporter of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. The Republican previously served as a Louisiana state lawmaker from 1989 to 1992 and unsuccessfully ran for governor. (Webmaster's comment: The KKK would be happy to bring back black lynchings and black slavery.)

7-22-16 Space: A giant leap for Africa
Space: A giant leap for Africa
Around the world there is growing appetite for space exploration and Africa is no exception. Images from the MeerKAT telescope - currently being built in Carnarvon, South Africa - have been unveiled, showing that it has picked up 13,000 galaxies since construction of the telescope began in 2009. The BBC's Lerato Mbele has been to Carnarvon to find out more about the continent's contribution to the international space race. (Webmaster's comment: But not here in America. We don't want to pay for hard science in America! We just want to be heroes and do the flash in the pan of getting to Mars first. And how will that benefit us in any way? And how will that help us understand anything about the universe in which we live?)

7-22-16 No more space race rhetoric: it’s not just about the US any more
No more space race rhetoric: it’s not just about the US any more
Increasingly nationalistic language around space exploration is distracting us from science that we can only do collaboratively. There has always been a note of nationalism to space exploration. We went to the moon “because it was hard”, as Kennedy said – but we also went because the Russians already had people in orbit around Earth. Every time a NASA spacecraft visits another world, the little American flags come out. NASA administrator Charles Bolden has justified the agency’s bid to create crewed craft for future missions as a way to “bring space launches back to America“. We may now be seeing the logical conclusion of that focus. Former space shuttle commander Eileen Collins spoke at the Republican National Convention on the night of 20 July – the anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing – to call for “leadership that will make America’s space programme first again”. This is a clear reframing of Donald Trump’s intensely nationalistic “Make America Great Again” theme. This is a step too far. The space community and the science community more broadly should not be co-opted in service of a political candidate who has called climate change a Chinese hoax. It’s time to reassess what we value in space. The best, most exciting, work has been done as part of international efforts; going it alone will not teach us more about the universe. (Webmaster's comment: It's not just about white males from America anymore, but it's never been that. It was first about Russian males and females.)

7-22-16 NBA moves North Carolina All-Star game over 'bathroom bill'
NBA moves North Carolina All-Star game over 'bathroom bill'
The announcement of Charlotte, North Carolina as the site of the 2017 game has been revoked. The NBA basketball league will move its 2017 All-Star game from North Carolina in protest about a state law that it says discriminates against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. House Bill 2, or HB2, invalidated several local anti-discrimination measures that protected LGBT people. The relocation is one of a number of high-profile consequences of the bill, including musicians cancelling gigs. The NBA said a new location would be announced in the coming weeks. The league said in a statement: "While we recognize that the NBA cannot choose the law in every city, state, and country in which we do business, we do not believe we can successfully host our All-Star festivities in Charlotte in the climate created by HB2."

7-22-16 Marijuana chemical contaminates Colorado town's water
Marijuana chemical contaminates Colorado town's water
Marijuana is legal in Colorado for medical and recreational use. But... Residents of a small town in the US state of Colorado have been told not to drink tap water after THC, the psychoactive chemical in marijuana, was found in one of the area's wells. The sheriff's office said the well near Hugo, about 90 miles south-east of Denver, may have been tampered with. It said it was not clear whether the water had been deliberately tainted. Medical and recreational use of marijuana is legal in Colorado but there are no legal farms near Hugo. Officials said the contamination came to light when a company that carries out employee drug tests sampled the tap water, assuming it would test negative, and was surprised when the result was positive. The presence of THC was later confirmed in field tests; more detailed laboratory tests are now taking place.

7-22-16 The alternate painkiller
The alternate painkiller
In the 17 states with a medical-marijuana law in place by 2013, prescriptions for painkillers and other classes of drugs fell sharply. In medical-­marijuana states, the average doctor prescribed 265 fewer doses of anti­depressants each year, 486 fewer doses of seizure medication, 541 fewer anti-­nausea doses, and 562 fewer doses of anti-anxiety medication—and 1,826 fewer doses of painkillers in a given year.

7-22-16 Muslims in America
Muslims in America
Islam in the U.S. has a long, rich history, but fears of terrorism complicate the future. The Pew Research Center estimates that 3.3 million Muslims live in the U.S., which makes Islam the nation’s third-largest faith, behind Christianity and Judaism. A 2011 Pew survey found them “highly assimilated into American society and largely content with their lives.” More than 80 percent of U.S. Muslims expressed satisfaction with life in America, and 63 percent said they felt no conflict “between being a devout Muslim and living in a modern society.” Due to high birth rates, the number of American Muslims is expected to grow to about 8 million by 2050—eclipsing Jews as the second-largest religious group in the U.S. But this age of terrorism, and calls by Donald Trump and other politicians to ban Muslim immigrants or monitor Muslim communities, have Muslims worried and in a defensive crouch. Bosnia has transformed the blue-collar town of 22,000 residents into the nation’s first majority Muslim community. It’s also the first to elect a majority Muslim council.

7-22-16 The truth about who we are
The truth about who we are
In fact America’s seething mass killers, racists, and immigrant bashers are very much part of who we are. The grim reality is that this country’s racial divide remains vast. Millions of Americans do not question “the prejudice in their heads and hearts,” and they reject “people who don’t look, speak, or pray like them.” It’s time to face the uncomfortable truth, “and deal with who and what we, as a nation, really are.”

7-22-16 Why we turn to horoscopes and amulets
Why we turn to horoscopes and amulets
More than one-third of Russians now think aliens have visited Earth. Even traditional religious belief is on the rise—sort of. Nearly 80 percent of Russians identify as Orthodox Christian, “but only 40 percent say they believe in God, and only 4 to 7 percent regularly attend church services.” Two-thirds of Russian women say they “turn for help to magicians, fortune-tellers, and psychics.” And our president encourages superstition, because it “squeezes out critical thinking.” A gullible populace is easy to rule.

7-21-16 Jerusalem LGBT parade returns after stabbing attack
Jerusalem LGBT parade returns after stabbing attack
Members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community are returning to the streets of Jerusalem for an annual parade, one year after a deadly stabbing attack by an ultra-Orthodox Jew. Organiser Tom Canning says due to religious hostility in the city, Pride day is the only time of year LGBT people can openly feel comfortable there.

7-20-16 Brain training game for troops tackles effects of combat trauma
Brain training game for troops tackles effects of combat trauma
The Israeli army has announced that by the end of the year its soldiers will play a game designed to prevent PTSD as part of their combat training.THE Israeli army has announced that by the end of the year all new infantry soldiers will play a computer game designed to prevent post-traumatic stress disorder. The US military is also reported to be testing the game. Blocking out the details of a traumatic event is thought to be one of the causes of PTSD. The game is designed to train soldiers not to do this. “On a psychological level, a soldier that does not process threats in real time is more likely to develop PTSD later on in life,” says Yair Bar-Haim at Tel Aviv University. “Flashbacks, overstimulation and an attempt to avoid anything that resembles the traumatic experience are all results of the inability to properly process events as they unfold.” (Webmaster's comment: Great! Now soldiers can rape and kill all the innocent civilians they want to and not feel bad about it. This training is designed to shut down a person's conscience. This is using psychology for evil ends.)

7-20-16 Should people who are not terminally ill have the right to die?
Should people who are not terminally ill have the right to die?
The debate around extending assisted suicide to people who experience unbearable mental suffering, rather than physical suffering, is an ethical minefield. LIKE many psychiatrists, Paulan Stärcke sometimes sees patients in such mental torment that they have tried to kill themselves. Where Stärcke differs is that occasionally, after much discussion with the patient, their family and other doctors, she helps them to do it. Stärcke prepares a lethal dose of barbiturate sedatives, either in the form of an injection or a medicine that can be drunk. She sits with her patient as they die and, at the end, certifies their death. She considers this her final professional duty to them. Stärcke practises in the Netherlands, one of three countries – along with Belgium and Switzerland – that permit assisted suicide for non-terminal illnesses that are causing unbearable suffering, which has been taken to include mental suffering. For many, this is a step too far. (Webmaster's comment: It's my life! If I wish to end it for whatever reason it's my decision to make, not your's, not the the government's, not anyone else's but mine!)

7-20-16 The silently devastating landmines of Cambodia
The silently devastating landmines of Cambodia
Clearing them is an incredibly slow, deliberate process. Traveling to Cambodia in 2009, Lane hooked up with a small NGO called Cambodia Self Help Demining that goes into remote villages clearing landmines left over from the Vietnam War and the Vietnam-Cambodian War. Though these wars have been over for decades, for some villagers, the violence of those conflicts lives on in these often still-active explosive devices buried just below the earth's surface. By some estimates, there are four to six million unexploded landmines in Cambodia. (Webmaster's comment: United States put them there to kill the Cambodian people. You'd think we would accept responsibility and pay to clean them up. It'll never happen! We killed them, and that's too bad, live with it, we must move on to killing other men, women, and children enemies of US "corporate interests.")

7-19-16 Kelvin MacKenzie's hijab remarks in Sun spark 1,400 complaints
Kelvin MacKenzie's hijab remarks in Sun spark 1,400 complaints
The press regulator has received more than 1,400 complaints about remarks Kelvin MacKenzie made in The Sun criticising a journalist for wearing a hijab while reporting the Nice attack. The paper's former editor questioned whether Fatima Manji should have been allowed to appear on Channel 4 News. Channel 4 News said the comments were "completely unacceptable". The news organisation told the BBC it would be making an official complaint to Ipso over the remarks.Writing in his column on Monday, MacKenzie said he could "hardly believe my eyes" when Manji - who normally wears the traditional Muslim head scarf - appeared on the news bulletin. She was co-presenting the programme from London while Jon Snow reported from Nice. "Was it appropriate for her to be on camera when there had been yet another shocking slaughter by a Muslim?" he wrote. "Was it done to stick one in the eye of the ordinary viewer who looks at the hijab as a sign of the slavery of Muslim women by a male-dominated and clearly violent religion?"It is also understood Manji is considering her other legal options. (Webmaster's comment: Hatred for people with different beliefs is everywhere. Most Muslim women wear the hijab by choice as a sign of their faith, not because they are forced to.)

7-19-16 #Asamother: Australia 'ban Muslims' comment mocked on social media
#Asamother: Australia 'ban Muslims' comment mocked on social media
A TV presenter who called for a ban on Muslim migration to Australia has been widely mocked on social media. Earlier this week, Sonia Kruger had told Today that after the Nice attack she would feel safer if the borders were closed to Muslims for a while. She later said on Twitter she was concerned "as a mother" and that there should be open discussion of the issue. The hashtag #asamother has since been trending in Australia, with many accusing her of racism.

7-18-16 America's inescapable debtor's prison
America's inescapable debtor's prison
Today, debt plays a near-constant role in American life: We are both a nation in debt and a nation of debtors, and so, to an extent, a nation that functions as a kind of large-scale debtor's prison. Perhaps nowhere is this reality more visible than in the way the American legal system has been able to turn debt into a kind of blunt instrument. A citizen's debt will reliably generate more debt, which will, in turn, generate a reliable profit for local law enforcement, or from the private companies that get in on the action. In an incendiary article in the Harvard Law Review, Shakeer Rahman recounted the story of Tom Barrett, whose experience of the American legal system's debt labyrinth began in 2012, when he was arrested for stealing a can of beer. The debtor's prison as discrete location may no longer exist as we once knew it, but this is only because our ability to punish debtors has now spread beyond prison walls. In Tom Barrett — and the countless other citizens like him — we find the story of a citizen not just controlled by debt, but forced to finance his own incarceration. This last detail, if not the story itself, would seem all too familiar to Dickens: Two hundred years ago, the debtors at Marshalsea had to pay for their own imprisonment as well.

7-15-16 Nice attack: Gingrich wants 'Sharia test' for US Muslims
Nice attack: Gingrich wants 'Sharia test' for US Muslims
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has suggested testing all US Muslims to see if they believe in Sharia law, and deporting those who do. Sharia is a legal code based on the Koran and other Islamic scriptures. Mr Gingrich's comments follow an attack in the French city of Nice, which has killed at least 84 people. His comments echo the sentiment held by likely Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, who has said Muslims should be banned from entering the US. "Western civilisation is in a war. We should frankly test every person here who is of a Muslim background and if they believe in Sharia they should be deported," Mr Gingrich told Fox News. "Sharia is incompatible with western civilisation. Modern Muslims who have given up Sharia, glad to have them as citizens. Perfectly happy to have them next door," he added. (Webmaster's comment: And let's deport all fundamentalist and evangelist Christians and Jews too! In fact let's deport everyone who thinks differently!)

7-15-16 No birthday cake for you
No birthday cake for you
A baker refused to make a birthday cake for a Toledo woman after learning she is gay and married to a woman. Candice Lowe ordered the cake for her wife, Amanda, without incident, but when the owner looked at her Facebook page and saw photos of her wife, she refused to bake it. “It wasn’t a wedding cake,” Candice said. “A birthday cake has nothing to do with our sexual preference.”

7-14-16 Florida mosque removed as polling site after anti-Islamic backlash
Florida mosque removed as polling site after anti-Islamic backlash
A Florida mosque has been removed as a polling station for the 2016 election after local officials received complaints and threats of violence. The Islamic Center of Boca Raton had planned to host a polling site for the state's primary in August and the general election in November. Officials rescinded the invite, drawing sharp criticism from Florida lawmakers who said it reinforced religious discrimination. Democratic US Representatives Ted Deutch and Lois Frankel released statements opposing the move. "If we are going to use places of worship as polling places, we should not discriminate,'' Mr Deutch said.

7-14-16 Can Christianity save China?
Can Christianity save China?
e growth of Christianity in China has been astonishing. At this point, it's no longer a question of if China will become a Christian nation, but when. The ramifications of this religious shift are massive, and will shake China's culture and economy to their cores. Since 1979, Protestant Christianity has been growing in China at a compound annual growth rate of more than 10 percent. There were 3 million Christians in China in 1980, compared to 58 million in 2010, according to Fenggyang Yang, director of the Center of Religion and Chinese Society at Purdue University. By 2025, that number could swell to 250 to 300 million. Surprised? That makes sense. The Chinese Communist Party has done all it can to downplay this phenomenon and keep a tight media lid on it. Meanwhile, Western media outlets are so taken with the idea that religion is an irrelevant (and declining) facet of modern life that they don't pay attention to its growth in most places outside calcified Western Europe. But this shift is happening, and it is astonishing, especially considering that China is officially an atheist country. From Chairman Mao's accession to power until his death, China officially banned all religion, the only country in history besides Albania to do so. Then, in 1979, in keeping with its liberalization program, China cautiously allowed a few places of worship to open. But the government's policy is still that religious expression must obey the party. Religion that is not officially sanctioned is still oppressed. (Webmaster's comment: A fate worse than death.)

7-14-16 Who you gonna call? The real-life ghost hunters
Who you gonna call? The real-life ghost hunters
When staff at Italian restaurant Nido's were convinced they had a ghost running amok, they knew exactly who to call. They phoned a local, real-life team of ghost hunters. A few days later, a five-person crew from Dead of Night Paranormal Investigations arrived at the eatery in the US city of Frederick, Maryland, to investigate. After speaking to waiters and chefs, who said that an invisible presence would stomp up and down the stairs, the team set to work. ParanormalSocieties.com, which claims to be the world's largest directory of paranormal societies, shows that the US has more than 3,600 American groups listed. Meanwhile, the website lists 53 such organisations from Canada, and 57 from the UK. To become a paranormal investigator requires no formal qualifications. Nor are there any licensing requirements, and you don't even have to believe in ghosts. By not charging, investigation groups such as Dead of Night and East Coast Research say they can be as scrupulous and scientific as possible. Polls show that about a third of people in the US and the UK believe in ghosts. (Webmaster's comment: There are no Gods, Ghosts, Goblins, or Ghouls, but many humans do seem to want to believe in something from a non-existant supernatural world.)

7-14-16 Founders of Western civilisation were prehistoric dope dealers
Founders of Western civilisation were prehistoric dope dealers
IT MUST have been something in the air. Some 11,000 years ago, humans in Europe and Asia began using a new plant – cannabis. An archaeological study suggests that different groups of people across Eurasia began using the plant independently at the end of the last ice age – perhaps for its psychoactive properties, as a source of food or medicine, or even to make textiles from its fibres. “The cannabis plant seems to have been distributed widely from as early as 10,000 years ago, or even earlier,” says Tengwen Long at the Free University of Berlin, Germany, whose team conducted the study. But the first dope dealers did not arrive for another 6000 years, says the team. At the dawn of the Bronze Age, the Yamnaya – nomadic pastoralists on the Eurasian steppe – mastered horse riding. This allowed them to cover vast distances and begin forging transcontinental trade networks following the same routes that would become the famous Silk Road several millennia later. This earlier “Bronze Road” enabled all sorts of commodities to be transported between east and west, potentially including cannabis. “It’s a hypothesis that requires more evidence to test,” says Long. It might also explain the spread of wheat to east Asia 5000 years ago, he says.

7-8-16 Transgenders double
Transgenders double
Roughly 1.4 million adults who live in the United States are transgender, or about 0.6 per­cent of the population, according a new report by UCLA’s Williams Institute, the country’s leading researcher on LGBT demographics. That’s double the institute’s previous population estimates, released in 2011.

7-8-16 Rapture is imminent
Rapture is imminent
The Texas Supreme Court ruled in favor of a Christian family accused of failing to educate their children because they believe the Rapture is imminent. Laura and Michael McIntyre refused to provide a school board with proof they’ve been actually homeschooling their nine children, saying the order violated their constitutional rights. The all-Republican court ruled in their favor. (Webmaster's comment: I don't know who is more ignorant, the Christians or the Republicans.)

7-8-16 The most hated Jew in Lithuania
The most hated Jew in Lithuania
Last summer, in a journey that helped cement his notoriety, Zuroff set off across the Lithuanian countryside in a gray SUV with Vanagaite, an author best known for a book about women finding happiness after age 50. Their goal: to visit some of the nation's more than 200 sites of mass murder during World War II. On the road, between destinations, they talked and talked, recording their conversations. The trip formed the basis of their 2016 book, Our People: Journey With an Enemy, an instant best-seller in Lithuania. It also ignited a rancorous debate among Lithuanians, who have long downplayed their country's considerable role in the Holocaust. Zuroff, often called the last Nazi hunter, has spent nearly four decades chasing down suspects from Australia to Iceland, from Hungary to the United States. His methods are sometimes controversial, but his mission is righteous: bringing to justice every remaining perpetrator of one of the most heinous crimes in history. For Westerners, the tiny country of Lithuania might seem an odd place for him to dig in, but with most Nazis either dead or too frail to face trial, this Eastern European nation may be the Nazi hunter's last stand. He considers Lithuania one of his most important fights because it hasn't addressed its role in mass murder during the Holocaust — its citizens killed almost all of the 250,000 Jews who lived there in 1941. "Not a single Lithuanian sat one day in jail in independent Lithuania" for collaborating with the Nazis and participating in the Holocaust, Zuroff tells Newsweek.

7-7-16 Noah's Ark theme park opens in Kentucky with life-size replica
Noah's Ark theme park opens in Kentucky with life-size replica
A theme park in the US state of Kentucky has unveiled a 510-foot-long (155 metre-long) wooden model of Noah's Ark. The ark was built by Christians who said they believe the biblical story was a historical event. Critics have said the attraction should not have received tax incentives as it contradicts science education. The ark is based on a biblical story of a man who received an apocalyptic warning from God about a massive flood. Answers in Genesis, the ministry that built the ark, said the ship's dimensions are based on those described in the Bible. The ark is also 85ft (26m) wide and 51ft (15m) high, according to the group. The group believes that God created everything, including dinosaurs, about 6,000 years ago. Scientists have said the dinosaurs became extinct about 65m years before man appeared. (Webmaster's comment: And the Scientists have all the evidence on their side while the Christians have nothing.)

7-7-16 The terrifying implications of Donald Trump's affectionate remarks about dictators
The terrifying implications of Donald Trump's affectionate remarks about dictators
I have a rule about campaign "gaffes." If a candidate says something just once and if he'd take it back if you gave him the chance, then he ought to be forgiven. We all make slips of the tongue all the time, and they don't reveal some secret self that we've been trying to keep hidden. On the other hand, if a candidate says something repeatedly, especially even after he's been criticized for it, then it probably does represent a real sentiment that might tell you something important about him. So when Donald Trump offered words of praise for Saddam Hussein at a rally on Tuesday, it wasn't exactly out of the blue. (Webmaster's comment: Trump would be a brutal dictator if he could. He'd be happy to be another Hitler or Stalin. Absolute power over others turns him on. Prison camps based on religious beliefs turns him on. Torturing suspects even if they may be innocent turns him only. Killing the families - including women and children - of terrorist suspects turns him on. What he advocates should put him in a mental institution for megalomaniacs. Megalomania is a psychopathological condition characterized by fantasies of power, relevance, omnipotence, and by inflated self-esteem. The perfect description of Trump.)

7-7-16 Founders of Western civilisation were prehistoric dope dealers
Founders of Western civilisation were prehistoric dope dealers
The ancient tribes of the Eurasian steppes that helped lay the foundations of Europe might have initiated a cross-continental trade in cannabis. It must have been something in the air. During a short time window at the end of the last ice age, Stone Age humans in Europe and Asia independently began using a new plant: cannabis. That’s the conclusion of a review of cannabis archaeology, which also links an intensification of cannabis use in East Asia with the rise of transcontinental trade at the dawn of the Bronze Age, some 5000 years ago. Central Eurasian’s Yamnaya people – thought to be one of the three key tribes that founded European civilisation ­– dispersed eastwards at this time and are thought to have spread cannabis, and possibly its psychoactive use, throughout Eurasia. The pollen, fruit and fibres of cannabis have been turning up in Eurasian archaeological digs for decades. It is often assumed that cannabis was first used, and possibly domesticated, somewhere in China or Central Asia, the researchers say – but their database points to an alternative. Some of the most recent studies included in the database suggest that the herb entered the archaeological record of Japan and Eastern Europe at almost exactly the same time, between about 11,500 and 10,200 years ago. “The cannabis plant seems to have been distributed widely from as early as 10,000 years ago, or even earlier,” says Long.

7-6-16 Farmworkers' uphill battle for unionization
Farmworkers' uphill battle for unionization
Juan, who didn't want to be identified by his real name for fear of losing his job, wants to collectively bargain without fear of employer retaliation. At the top of the list of protections he is seeking are worker's compensation for injuries and paid leave during recovery. After 15 years of grassroots organizing by farmworkers and labor advocates in New York, the right to collective bargaining may be on the horizon for the state's approximately 60,000 farmworkers. The New York Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit recently against the state and the governor. The advocacy group says denying farmworkers these protections violates the state constitution. Governor Andrew Cuomo agrees. In a statement, he said that his administration will not fight the lawsuit: "We will not tolerate the abuse or exploitation of workers in any industry. This clear and undeniable injustice must be corrected."

7-4-16 The growing food divide between rich and poor in America
The growing food divide between rich and poor in America
ch has been written about the growing income inequality in the United States. But another kind of gap is also widening between us, and it's at the dinner table. Overall, Americans are eating better. In the decade leading up to 2012, the number of people eating a poor diet fell from around 56 percent to under 46 percent. But if you separate people out by income, it's a different story. High-income Americans are eating better than ever — swapping fruit juice for whole fruits, replacing refined grains with whole grains, and eating tons of nuts — while the low-income group has improved much more modestly. In other words, much like our politics and our incomes, the way Americans eat is becoming more and more divided. Webmaster's comment: Just like the incomes. The already rich make more and more while the poor Americans live from paycheck to paycheck if they are lucky. One unplanned bill a disaster. A lost job a mega-disaster.)

7-4-16 Justin Trudeau joins Canada gay pride march
Justin Trudeau joins Canada gay pride march
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has become the country's first head of government to take part in Toronto's annual gay pride parade.

7-2-16 The simple problem with complex science
The simple problem with complex science.
Researchers like their studies complicated, but the public needs their daily dose of science to be spoon-fed. Scientists like their studies like Game of Thrones: ridiculously long and unimaginably complex. Big surprise, huh? It's reassuring to know that scientists are big on detail — they are scientists, after all — but news audiences prefer their science a little more like the Big Bang Theory: simple, slapstick, and easy to comprehend. (Webmaster's comment: And what would you expect? Twenty-five years ago the average American was reading and writing at the 8th grade level. But now the average American now reads and writes at the 6th grade level and can't alphabetize. They struggle with multiplication and can't do division, and can't do change in their heads. They struggle to think and solve problems above the 6th grade level. How could one expect this mass ignorance of the average American public to understand anything about the results of science studies and the complexities of science research? It's simply beyond their comprehension! To reach half of the American public you have to dumb your reporting down so 6th graders can understand it.)

7-1-16 Judge blocks Mississippi anti-LGBT 'religious freedom' law
Judge blocks Mississippi anti-LGBT 'religious freedom' law
A US judge has blocked a Mississippi law protecting religious objections to same-sex marriage a day before it was set to take effect. It favoured some religious beliefs over others and would mean unequal treatment for gay people, the judge said. The measure was intended to protect people who objected on religious grounds to gay marriage, extramarital sex and changing gender. Critics of the the law said it discriminated against same-sex couples, transgender people and others. State attorneys are expected to appeal the ruling.

7-1-16 US military lifts transgender ban
US military lifts transgender ban
The US military has lifted its ban on transgender members serving openly in the country's armed forces. The new policy, which will allow troops to transition gender while serving and will set standards for medical care, will be phased in over a year. "This is the right thing to do for our people and for the force," said Defence Secretary Ash Carter. It will ensure no-one can be discharged or denied re-enlistment based on their gender identity.

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Atheism News & Humanism Articles for June 2016