Louisiana passes first antievolution “academic freedom” law

Louisiana passes first antievolution “academic freedom” law

As we noted last month, a number of states have been considering laws that, under the guise of “academic freedom,” single out evolution for special criticism. Most of them haven’t made it out of the state legislatures, and one that did was promptly vetoed. But the last of these bills under consideration, the Louisiana Science Education Act (LSEA), was enacted by the signature of Governor Bobby Jindal yesterday. The bill would allow local school boards to approve supplemental classroom materials specifically for the critique of scientific theories, allowing poorly-informed board members to stick their communities with Dover-sized legal fees.

The text of the LSEA suggests that it’s intended to foster critical thinking, calling on the state Board of Education to “assist teachers, principals, and other school administrators to create and foster an environment within public elementary and secondary schools that promotes critical thinking skills, logical analysis, and open and objective discussion of scientific theories.” Unfortunately, it’s remarkably selective in its suggestion of topics that need critical thinking, as it cites scientific subjects “including, but not limited to, evolution, the origins of life, global warming, and human cloning.”

Oddly, the last item on the list is not the subject of any scientific theory; the remainder are notable for being topics that are the focus of frequent political controversies rather than scientific ones.

The opposition

The bill has been opposed by every scientific society that has voiced a position on it, including the American Association for the Advancement of Science. AAAS CEO Alan Leshner warned that the bill would “unleash an assault against scientific integrity, leaving students confused about science and unprepared to excel in a modern workforce.”

Jindal, who was a biology major during his time at Brown University, even received a veto plea from his former genetics professor. “Without evolution, modern biology, including medicine and biotechnology, wouldn’t make sense,” Professor Arthur Landy wrote. “I hope he [Jindal] doesn’t do anything that would hold back the next generation of Louisiana’s doctors.”

Dear Crazy Asshole Christians Groups – Go To Hell

 What kind of sick fucks want to force an 11 year old girl to give birth after having been raped by her uncle? Unbelievable.

Romanian girl permitted abortion

An 11-year-old Romanian girl who is 21 weeks pregnant after being raped by an uncle will be able to have an abortion, even though it is forbidden by law.

A government committee said the procedure should go ahead due to the exceptional circumstances of her case.

Romania’s abortion limit is 14 weeks. It had been suggested the girl might travel to the UK for the abortion.

Some 20 Christian Orthodox groups had threatened to press charges if the girl was allowed to abort the foetus.

In a letter to the government committee, the girl said she wanted to be able “to go to school and to play”.

“If I can’t do this my life will be a nightmare,” she said, according to a text read out by government committee member Vlad Iliescu.

“The committee has decided that a voluntary termination of the pregnancy can be carried out,” said Mr Iliescu.

He said the abortion could take place because the girl was a victim of sexual abuse and faced “major risks to her mental health” if the pregnancy continued.

Another committee member, Theodora Bertzi said the decision was made focusing on “the rights of this child who was subjected to rape and incest”.

The committee said the case highlighted the need for “clarifications with regard to the exceptional circumstances” that would allow late-term abortions to go ahead.

‘Family decision’

The girl was raped by a 19-year-old uncle who has since disappeared.

Her family only discovered she was pregnant when they took her to the doctor because she seemed sick.

While some pro-life Christian Orthodox groups had urged the family to keep the child, and offered to raise it in a church institution, the Romanian Orthodox Church said any decision on abortion should be left to the family.

The girl’s parents had said they wanted to travel to a country where such a late-term abortion was legal.

In Romania abortion is only normally allowed beyond 14 weeks if the mother’s life is deemed to be at risk. In Britain, they can be carried out up to 24 weeks in some circumstances.

A Romanian living in the UK had offered to cover the costs of a termination there.

Teenager From Faith-Healing Family Dies

I’d be more annoyed, but, they’re clearing out their own gene pool.

Teenager From Faith-Healing Family Dies

GLADSTONE, Ore. (June 18) – Authorities say a teenager from a faith-healing family died from an illness that could have been easily treated, just a few months after a toddler cousin of his died in a case that has led to criminal charges.

Tuesday’s death of 16-year-old Neil Beagley, however, may not be a crime because Oregon law allows minors 14 and older to decide for themselves whether to accept medical treatment.

“All of the interviews from last night are that he did in fact refuse treatment,” police Sgt. Lynne Benton said Wednesday. “Unless we can disprove that, charges probably won’t be filed in this case.”

An autopsy Wednesday showed Beagley died of heart failure caused by a urinary tract blockage.

He likely had a congenital condition that constricted his urinary tract where the bladder empties into the urethra, and the condition of his organs indicates he had multiple blockages during his life, said Dr. Clifford Nelson, deputy state medical examiner for Clackamas County.

“You just build up so much urea in your bloodstream that it begins to poison your organs, and the heart is particularly susceptible,” Nelson said.

Nelson said a catheter would have saved the boy’s life. If the condition had been dealt with earlier, a urologist could easily have removed the blockage and avoided the kidney damage that came with the repeated illnesses, Nelson said.

Benton said a board member of the Followers of Christ church contacted the authorities after Beagley died at his family’s home. The teen had been sick about a week, and church members and his family had gathered to pray Sunday when his condition worsened, Benton said.

In March, the boy’s 15-month-old cousin Ava Worthington died at home from bronchial pneumonia and a blood infection.

Her parents, Carl and Raylene Worthington, also belong to the church. They have pleaded not guilty to manslaughter and criminal mistreatment, and their defense attorneys have indicated they will use a religious freedom defense.

After earlier deaths involving children of Followers of Christ believers, a 1999 Oregon law struck down religious shields for parents who treat their children solely with prayer. No one had been prosecuted under it until the Worthingtons’ case.

Members and former members of the church in Oregon City have told The Oregonian newspaper in previous interviews that the congregation has 1,200 people. It has no apparent ties to other congregations or any mainstream denomination.

George Carlin Dead at 71

This is a real shame, he was a great comedian and outspoken critic of religion.

Comedian George Carlin dies at 71

 SANTA MONICA, Calif. – A publicist for George Carlin says the legendary comedian has died of heart failure at a hospital in Santa Monica, Calif.

Jeff Abraham says Carlin went into St. John’s Hospital on Sunday afternoon, complaining of chest pain. Carlin died at 5:55 p.m. PDT. He was 71.

The dean of counterculture comedians, Carlin constantly pushed the envelop with his jokes, particularly with a routine called “The Seven Words You Can Never Say On TV.”

When Carlin uttered all seven at a show in Milwaukee in 1972, he was arrested for disturbing the peace. And when they were played on a New York radio station, they resulted in a Supreme Court ruling in 1978 upholding the government’s authority to sanction stations for broadcasting offensive language.

For those not very familiar with him (as if), here’s a bit he did about praying to god.

You know who I pray to? Joe Pesci. Joe Pesci. Two reasons; first of all, I think he’s a good actor. Okay. To me, that counts. Second; he looks like a guy who can get things done. Joe Pesci doesn’t fuck around. Doesn’t fuck around. In fact, Joe Pesci came through on a couple of things that God was having trouble with. For years I asked God to do something about my noisy neighbor with the barking dog. Joe Pesci straightened that cock-sucker out with one visit.

I noticed that of all the prayers I used to offer to God, and all the prayers that I now offer to Joe Pesci, are being answered at about the same 50 percent rate. Half the time I get what I want. Half the time I don’t. Same as God 50-50. Same as the four leaf clover, the horse shoe, the rabbit’s foot, and the wishing well. Same as the mojo man. Same as the voodoo lady who tells your fortune by squeezing the goat’s testicles. It’s all the same; 50-50. So just pick your superstitions, sit back, make a wish and enjoy yourself.

And for those of you that look to the Bible for it’s literary qualities and moral lessons; I got a couple other stories I might like to recommend for you. You might enjoy The Three Little Pigs. That’s a good one. It has a nice happy ending. Then there’s Little Red Riding Hood. Although it does have that one X-rated part where the Big Bad Wolf actually eats the grandmother. Which I didn’t care for, by the way. And finally, I’ve always drawn a great deal of moral comfort from Humpty Dumpty. The part I liked best: “and all the king’s horses, and all the king’s men couldn’t put Humpty together again.” That’s because there is no Humpty Dumpty, and there is no God. None. Not one. Never was. No God.

How I nearly lost my business after refusing to hire a Muslim hair stylist who wouldn’t show her hair

How I nearly lost my business after refusing to hire a Muslim hair stylist who wouldn’t show her hair

It seems too lunatic to be true. But here a hair salon boss reveals how she was driven to the brink of ruin – and forced to pay £4,000 for ‘hurt feelings’ – after refusing to hire a Muslim stylist who wouldn’t show her hair at work

For Sarah Desrosiers, meeting Bushra Noah was not a moment in her life that she would describe as especially memorable.

Not only was it brief  -  lasting little more than ten minutes  -  but it was rapidly obvious to Sarah that Bushra was not the person for the junior stylist position she was trying to fill at her hairdressing salon.

Sarah’s reasoning? Quite simply that Bushra, a Muslim who wears a headscarf for religions reasons, had made it clear she would not be removing the garment even while at work.

Sarah felt that a job requirement of any hairdresser was that the stylist’s hair would provide clients with a showcase of different looks. Especially one working in a salon such as hers, which specialises in alternative cuts and colours.

Yet the ten minutes during which Sarah’s world collided with Bushra’s has resulted in an extraordinary employment battle, in which  she was accused of ‘direct’ and ‘indirect’ discrimination.

For a year, Sarah has been facing financial ruin, due to a compensation claim for £34,000 brought by Bushra, 19, who has maintained she is due that figure after being turned down for a job at the Wedge salon in London’s King’s Cross.

In the event, the tribunal ruled this week that while Bushra’s claim of direct discrimination failed, her claim for indirect discrimination had succeeded.

Sarah has therefore been ordered to pay £4,000 compensation by way of ‘injury to feelings’.

Although this is a smaller sum than she’d feared she might have to hand over, Sarah, 32, is still outraged.

‘I am a small business and the bottom line is that this is not a woman who worked for me,’ says Sarah.

Islamic Cartoons

Who doesn’t love making fun of a religion as crazy as Islam?


Islamic Cartoon

Islamic Cartoon

Islamic Cartoon

Islamic Cartoon

Islamic Cartoon

Islamic Cartoon

Islamic Cartoon

Islamic Cartoon

Islamic Cartoon

Islamic Cartoon

Intelligent people ‘less likely to believe in God’

I’m not surprised in the least.

Intelligent people ‘less likely to believe in God’

Professor Richard Lynn, emeritus professor of psychology at Ulster University, said many more members of the “intellectual elite” considered themselves atheists than the national average.

A decline in religious observance over the last century was directly linked to a rise in average intelligence, he claimed.

But the conclusions – in a paper for the academic journal Intelligence – have been branded “simplistic” by critics.

Professor Lynn, who has provoked controversy in the past with research linking intelligence to race and sex, said university academics were less likely to believe in God than almost anyone else.

A survey of Royal Society fellows found that only 3.3 per cent believed in God – at a time when 68.5 per cent of the general UK population described themselves as believers.

A separate poll in the 90s found only seven per cent of members of the American National Academy of Sciences believed in God.

Professor Lynn said most primary school children believed in God, but as they entered adolescence – and their intelligence increased – many started to have doubts.

He told Times Higher Education magazine: “Why should fewer academics believe in God than the general population? I believe it is simply a matter of the IQ. Academics have higher IQs than the general population. Several Gallup poll studies of the general population have shown that those with higher IQs tend not to believe in God.”

He said religious belief had declined across 137 developed nations in the 20th century at the same time as people became more intelligent.

But Professor Gordon Lynch, director of the Centre for Religion and Contemporary Society at Birkbeck College, London, said it failed to take account of a complex range of social, economic and historical factors.

“Linking religious belief and intelligence in this way could reflect a dangerous trend, developing a simplistic characterisation of religion as primitive, which – while we are trying to deal with very complex issues of religious and cultural pluralism – is perhaps not the most helpful response,” he said.

Dr Alistair McFadyen, senior lecturer in Christian theology at Leeds University, said the conclusion had “a slight tinge of Western cultural imperialism as well as an anti-religious sentiment”.

Dr David Hardman, principal lecturer in learning development at London Metropolitan University, said: “It is very difficult to conduct true experiments that would explicate a causal relationship between IQ and religious belief. Nonetheless, there is evidence from other domains that higher levels of intelligence are associated with a greater ability – or perhaps willingness – to question and overturn strongly felt institutions.”

Bacteria make major evolutionary shift in the lab

Bacteria make major evolutionary shift in the lab

A major evolutionary innovation has unfurled right in front of researchers’ eyes. It’s the first time evolution has been caught in the act of making such a rare and complex new trait.

And because the species in question is a bacterium, scientists have been able to replay history to show how this evolutionary novelty grew from the accumulation of unpredictable, chance events.

Twenty years ago, evolutionary biologist Richard Lenski of Michigan State University in East Lansing, US, took a single Escherichia coli bacterium and used its descendants to found 12 laboratory populations.

The 12 have been growing ever since, gradually accumulating mutations and evolving for more than 44,000 generations, while Lenski watches what happens.

Profound change

Mostly, the patterns Lenski saw were similar in each separate population. All 12 evolved larger cells, for example, as well as faster growth rates on the glucose they were fed, and lower peak population densities.

But sometime around the 31,500th generation, something dramatic happened in just one of the populations – the bacteria suddenly acquired the ability to metabolise citrate, a second nutrient in their culture medium that E. coli normally cannot use.

Indeed, the inability to use citrate is one of the traits by which bacteriologists distinguish E. coli from other species. The citrate-using mutants increased in population size and diversity.

“It’s the most profound change we have seen during the experiment. This was clearly something quite different for them, and it’s outside what was normally considered the bounds of E. coli as a species, which makes it especially interesting,” says Lenski.