Friday, February 29, 2008

Atheists Find Strength In Numbers

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- A legion of the godless is rising up against the forces of religiosity in American society.

"People who were ashamed to say there is no God now say, 'Wow, there are others out there who think like me,'" said Margaret Downey, president of the Atheist Alliance International, whose membership has almost doubled in the past year to 5,200.


Americans United Files Lawsuit Challenging Sectarian Prayers At New York Town's Board Meetings

Church-State Watchdog Group Says Board's Preference For Christianity Flouts First Amendment Of The Constitution.


World's Biggest Particle Smasher Completed

Ambitious experiment will help scientists recreate Big Bang conditions.


Scientists See Deep Inside Human Brain

New imaging technique peers into areas key to behavior.


Children Killed As Gaza Violence Flares

JERUSALEM (CNN) -- Israel's defense minister Thursday told his country "to ready for escalation" as it continued to pummel Gaza with airstrikes in response to rocket attacks from militants in the Palestinian territory.


See also:

IDF kills 20 Palestinians, including 6 children, in Gaza and West Bank

Israel warns of invasion of Gaza

Israeli minister warns of Palestinian 'holocaust'

Suicide Bombing Kills 35 In Pakistan

(AP) A suicide bomber attacked the funeral for a slain police officer in Pakistan's volatile Swat Valley on Friday, killing at least 35 people and injuring 62 others, police said.


See also:

30 killed in Pakistan funeral blast

Taliban Threaten Spring Offensive On Kabul

Taliban leaders have warned they are planning to strangle Kabul, targeting civilians with dozens of suicide bombings and using thousands of fighters to lay siege to road links to the Afghan capital.


See also:

Afghan insurgency spreads

Afghanistan mission close to failing - US

Poverty pushing youth into arms of Taliban?

Welcome To The Quagmire

First, Iraq's sectarian factions are nowhere near reconciliation.


See also:

Sunni Forces Losing Patience With U.S.

Sharia In Iran: 'Death To Converts'

The Iranian parliament is discussing a new penal code, under which citizens who convert from another religion will face execution.


Muslim Headscarf Rows Hit Christian Schools

Ireland -- Conflicts are developing in Irish schools over the wearing of the hijab, or headscarf, by Muslim pupils, it was disclosed yesterday.


New Warning To Faith Charities

UK -- Faith charities encouraging or promoting violence or hatred risk losing their charitable status as part of a radical overhaul proposed by the Charity Commission.


See also:

Sharia unveiled

Bobbies Will Be Taught Sharia Law And The Koran

UK -- Police will be trained on the importance of the Koran and Sharia law to Muslims under Government plans to tackle extremism.


See also:

MP fury at Sharia law idea for police

Dutch Film To Slam Islam

BRUSSELS -- Europe's uneasy relationship with its Muslim minority faces another blow next month, when Dutch politician Geert Wilders releases a 15-minute film that compares Islam to Nazism and communism.


See also:

Do not broadcast critical Islam movie, says Dutch foreign minister

Muslim anger mounts over cartoons, movie

Creationists 'Peddle Lies About Fossil Record'

Some Christians claim there is a lack of "missing link" fossils, halfway between two major groups of creatures.

They say this proves Charles Darwin's theory of evolution is a fallacy and that God created each living species from nothing.

But, in an essay published in the magazine New Scientist today, geologist Donald Prothero claims that reports of "huge gaps" in the fossil records have been greatly exaggerated.


Wine Bottles A Step Too Far For Turkish Pop Music Video

As clips go, it looks inoffensive: scenes of men dancing jigs in a dark, water-filled basement, interspersed with shots of a crowded dinner table studded with bottles of wine.

But when the Turkish pop singer, Aslizen Yentu, sent the promotional video for her first album to the country's top music station, she was told the shots of an alcohol-laden dinner table had to go, although such a ban has no basis in Turkish law. "I thought it was a joke," she says. "The album is called Cheers. The song is a Greek tavern song. Was I supposed to sip yoghurt drink?"


Thursday, February 28, 2008

FreeThoughtAction Hero Of The Day - 02/28/08

Linus PaulingLinus Pauling (February 28, 1901 - August 19, 1994)

According to Wikipedia, Pauling "was an American scientist, peace activist, author and educator. He is considered as one of the most influential chemists of the 20th century and ranks among the most important scientists in history.

"Pauling was one of the first scientists to work in the fields of quantum chemistry, molecular biology and orthomolecular medicine (optimum nutrition). He is also a member of a small group of individuals who have been awarded more than one Nobel Prize, one of only two people to receive them in different fields (the other was Marie Curie) and the only person in that group to have been awarded each of his prizes without having to share it with another recipient."

Pauling was raised in the Lutheran Church, but he joined the Unitarian Universalist Church as an adult and publically declared his atheism.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

"Does God Exist?" Forum In Kentucky

Edwin Kagin, National Legal Director for American Atheists will be a guest on a panel discussing "Does God Exist?" at the University of Kentucky next Monday, March 3, 2008.

The forum will also include members of the Campus Crusade for Christ, and a representative of the Muslim religion. The discussion begins at 7:30 in the University of Kentucky (Lexington) Student Center, Small Ballroom. The forum is free and open to the general public. You can find directions and other visitor information at Inquiries about the Forum should be directed to Bryan Kennedy at

Sneak Peek At The Virtual Universe

After weeks of rumblings in the blogosphere, Microsoft Research's WorldWide Telescope was brought out in the open for the first time today, at the annual TED conference in Monterey, Calif. The software program knits together terabytes of online data into a seamless, zoomable experience - and lets users create their own guided tours of the deep sky.


See also:

Polar map of the moon is the best yet

'Doomsday' seed vault opens in Arctic

Sci-fi travels from imagination to reality


The Encyclopedia Of Life

Big Debate Over Small Science

Many Americans Find Nanotechnology 'Morally Unacceptable,' NSF Study Finds


Taliban Making Gains In Afghanistan

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A resurgent Taliban is back in charge over parts of Afghanistan, the nation's chief intelligence official said Wednesday in an assessment that differed from the one made last month by Defense Secretary Robert Gates.


See also:

Al Qaeda No. 2 Lauds Slain Commander

Airstrike Hits Gaza Ministry Building

JERUSALEM (CNN) -- At least three Israeli missiles hit the Palestinian Interior Ministry in Gaza Wednesday, hours after Palestinian militants fired more than 40 Qassam rockets into southern Israel.


See also:

Fighting On Gaza Border Intensifies

Israeli airstrikes kill at least 10 in Gaza

UN Envoy Critical of Gaza Living Conditions

Sabbath Conflict May End Playoff Run

DENVER (AP) -- State senators have taken up the cause of a Jewish boys basketball team whose playoff run may be halted because its players can't play on the Jewish Sabbath.

The Herzl/Rocky Mountain Hebrew Academy team could be headed for a regional championship on Saturday, March 8, if it wins one more game. But the Denver team's religious beliefs prohibit students from playing on the Jewish Sabbath between sundown Friday and sundown Saturday.


Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Encyclopedia Of Life

Scientists are writing the Book of All Species. Or to be more precise, they are building a Web site called the Encyclopedia of Life ( ). On Thursday its authors, an international team of scientists, will introduce the first 30,000 pages, and within a decade, they predict, they will have the other 1.77 million.


Earth's Final Sunset Predicted

New calculation predicts planet's destruction in 7.6 billion years.


In First, N.Y. Judge Allows Gay Divorce

In what appears to be the first ruling of its kind, a New York judge will allow a lesbian couple who married in Canada to sue for divorce.


Network Of Terrorist Camps In Rural England

LONDON - Clad in mud-smeared combat fatigues, the young Muslims trained on picturesque British farmland, hurling imaginary grenades, wielding sticks as mock rifles and chopping watermelons in simulated beheadings.


Sudan Says Danish Products Banned

KHARTOUM, Sudan (AP) -- Sudan has enacted a ban on Danish imports in reaction to the reprinting of a cartoon that satirizes Islam's Prophet Muhammad, the Sudanese state-run news agency said Tuesday.


Pakistan Lifts Block On YouTube

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) -- Pakistan's telecoms regulator said Tuesday it has lifted restrictions on the YouTube Web site that led to the knocking out of access to the popular video-sharing site in many other countries for a few hours over the weekend.

The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority ordered 70 domestic Internet service providers to restore access to the site after removal of what government officials had deemed a "blasphemous" video clip.


See also:

YouTube row gives taste of hate film

'I don't hate Muslims. I hate Islam,' says Holland's rising political star

Pakistan Targets TV Critics


Sharif plans to contest Pakistan by-elections


Suicide Bomber Kills Pakistan General

Bomb Kills 2 NATO Soldiers In Afghanistan

(AP) A roadside bomb blast struck NATO soldiers patrolling in eastern Afghanistan, killing two of the troops and wounding one other.


See also:

Taliban Threatens Cell Towers

Women's lives worse than ever

Polygamist 'Prophet' In Arizona To Face Charges

PHOENIX, Arizona (AP) -- Polygamist sect leader Warren Jeffs was handed over to Arizona authorities Tuesday to face sex charges stemming from the arranged marriages of two teenage girls to older relatives.


Accused Witch Gives Birth In Tree

A PREGNANT woman in Papua New Guinea who was hung from a tree after being accused of sorcery gave birth to her baby while struggling to free herself.


Hamas Children TV Bunny Threatens To Kill Danes Over Muhammad Cartoons

In the February 22, 2008 episode of the Hamas children's show "The Pioneers of Tomorrow," on Al-Aqsa TV, program host Saraa Barhoum and bunny character Assud urge viewers to boycott Danish products and to avenge the insult of the Muhammad cartoons reprinted by Danish newspapers. They also express their hope that "all the borders will be opened" between Arab countries, and discuss their own "martyrdom."


Turkey In Radical Revision Of Islamic Texts

Turkey is preparing to publish a document that represents a revolutionary reinterpretation of Islam - and a controversial and radical modernisation of the religion.


Vatican Makes It Harder To Become A Saint

VATICAN CITY - The Vatican is making it tougher to become a saint.


Monday, February 25, 2008

Survey: U.S. Religious Landscape In Flux

DENVER -- The U.S. religious marketplace is extremely volatile, with nearly half of American adults leaving the faith tradition of their upbringing to either switch allegiances or abandon religious affiliation altogether, a new survey finds.


34th National Conference Of American Atheists

RICHARD DAWKINS, award-winning scientist and author will be the headline speaker at the 34th National Conference of American Atheists, March 20-22, 2008 in Minneapolis, MN.

In addition, the Conference is honored to host writer Robert Lanham and historian Rene Salm.

Robert Lanham - The Sinner's Guide To The Evangelical Right

Robert Lanham is the author of the books The Sinner's Guide to the Evangelical Right, The Hipster Handbook, and Food Court Druids. Neal Pollack calls him "the Margaret Mead of the North American Weirdo." Lanham was born in Richmond, Virginia in the heart of the Bible Belt and was raised in a strict Southern Baptist church. He grew up in an environment where rock music was considered the devil's music and with parents who speak in tongues, vote Republican, and have a vanity plate that says "Prayzin." Lanham's first babysitter was Republican Senator Tom Coburn, best known for advocating the death penalty for abortion providers. As a teen, before his fall from grace, Lanham tried to speak in tongues, but failed. Lanham now lives in the den of iniquity, New York City. Lanham's writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Independent, Time Out, Nylon, Playboy, Maxim, and many other publications as well as in the collections The Subway Chronicles and Bookmark Now.


Rene Salm's meticulous, exhaustive, 8-year-long research on the archaeology of the town now called Nazareth shows irrefutably that "Nazareth" was not inhabited at the time Jesus and his family are supposed to have been living there. This puts Jesus of Nazareth in the same league as the Wizard of Oz. Salm's new AAP book, The Myth of Nazareth, will be released at the conference and is likely to be the biggest challenge to Christianity in centuries. Coming shortly after Israeli archaeologist Aviram Oshri's demonstration that Bethlehem in Judea also was uninhabited in New Testament times and Frank Zindler's discovery that Capernaum was a literary invention, Salm's book is going to be a collector's item for Atheists and all who are interested in the long war between science and religion. Salm is an authority on the origins of Buddhism as well as Christianity, and is a recovered Catholic.

WHAT: 34th National Conference of American Atheists

WHEN: March 20-22, 2008

WHERE: The Minneapolis Marriott City Center Hotel, 30 South 7th St., Minneapolis, MN.


Electron Filmed In Motion For The First Time

Scientists have filmed an electron in motion for the first time, using a new technique that will allow researchers to study the tiny particle's movements directly.


See also:

Physicist Neil Turok: Big Bang Wasn't the Beginning

Blood Test Could Reveal Bipolar Disorder

A blood test could be used to diagnose and assess the severity of certain mental illnesses, such as bipolar disorder, according to a new study. But some experts think this raises ethical concerns about prying into a person's mental status.


See also:

Gene discovery may lead to new baldness drugs

Turning back the 'creepy old hands' of time

Scientists Find 5,500-Year-Old Plaza In Peru

LIMA - A circular plaza built 5,500 years ago has been discovered in Peru, and archaeologists involved in the dig said on Monday that carbon dating shows it is one of the oldest structures ever found in the Americas.


See also:

Krill found in Antarctica's icy depths

Church-State Watchdog Group Highlights A Slew Of Constitutionally Suspect Appropriations

Americans United for Separation of Church and State today urged federal agencies to block constitutionally suspect earmarks directing tax dollars to a string of religious organizations.



ACLU Sues To Protect Marriages Threatened By Recent Court Decision

Hollywood Gets Preachy, On And Off Screen

Religion is often the backdrop for many Hollywood movies, and these days, with crime on the rise in Tinseltown, most actors need atonement more than their Screen Actors Guild dental benefits.


Church Is Paying A High Price For Its Celibacy Rule

The appointment of a former Catholic priest as the Anglican Dean of Dublin's Christ Church cathedral is an example how the obligatory rule of celibacy of the Roman priesthood is losing clergy to the more liberal Church of Ireland.


Anglican Rift Deepens As Two Sides Go To Court

VANCOUVER -- The cracks in the Anglican Church of Canada are widening over the issue of blessing same-sex marriages, with three more congregations voting to split with the national organization over the weekend - and the two sides headed to court on Friday.


Faith School Boom 'Creates Division'

Australia -- The rapid growth of faith-based schools under the previous federal government has threatened the social cohesion of the nation, according to Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard's most senior education adviser.


See also:

Sydney's Archbishop opposes Civil Unions

Gazans Form Human Chain Along Israeli Border

Palestinians today formed a human chain in protest at Israel's blockade of Gaza as Israel deployed thousands of troops and police officers along the border.


See also:

Gaza protesters form human chain

Israel retaliates after Gaza rocket attacks

In Israel, some see no option but war

Wheelchair Bomber Kills 3 In Iraq Police Station

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- A man in a wheelchair blew himself up Monday in a northern Iraqi police station, killing three National Police officers, including a commander, police said.



Rocket blasts unsettle Green Zone in Iraq

Suicide bomber kills 40 Shiite pilgrims

Dozens Of Iraqi Pilgrims Killed In Attacks

Blast Kills at Least 63 Shiite Pilgrims in Iraq

See also:

Uncertainty Facing Iraq's Awakening Movement Puts U.S. Strategy at Risk

The Ansar al-Mahdi and the Continuing Threat of the Doomsday Cults in Iraq

Hopes of UK troop cuts in Basra dashed

Ominous Signs Remain in City Run by Iraqis

Pakistan Army General Killed In Suicide Blast

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan -- A suicide bomber hit a car carrying the army's surgeon general along a busy road south of the capital Islamabad Monday, killing him and at least seven others, the army said.

In the north, gunmen opened fire and threw grenades inside the office of the British-based aid group, killing four local staff, the group and police said.


The latest attack is likely to revive concern about Islamic militancy in Pakistan just days after the opposition won parliamentary elections.


See also:

Suicide Bombs Kill Surgeon General, 10 Others in Pakistan

Musharraf dismisses talk of 'graceful exit'

Pakistan causes worldwide YouTube outage

Sunday, February 24, 2008

More Than 40 Shiite Pilgrims Killed

(AP) The streets of the Iraqi city of Karbala are already choked with Shiite pilgrims gathered for a religious observance. But dozens of others who were headed there by foot never made it.

They were killed at the hands of a suicide bomber who attacked today as the pilgrims took a break from their trek at a tent offering food and drink.

The U.S. military says at least 40 people were killed and 60 were wounded.


See also:

Bombers, gunmen attack Shiite pilgrimage in Iraq

Suicide bomber kills 40 in Iraq

Pakistan Blocks YouTube

(AP) Pakistan's government has banned access to the video-sharing Web site YouTube because of anti-Islamic movies that users have posted on the site, an official said Sunday.


Israel And Hizballah On High Alert

Spooning brown sugar into tiny glasses of tea, the Hizballah commander said that the Shi'ite fighters will be on the offensive in the next war, hinting at taking the battle into Israel itself. "We weren't expecting the last war and we fought only to defend our land, but next time you will see a very different kind of fighting," he said.


Secret Plan To Avoid Church Gay Split

The Archbishop of Canterbury is backing secret plans to create a "parallel" Church for American conservatives to avert fresh splits over homosexuality.


See also:

Foster couple challenges homosexuality laws

Woman Can't Let Grandson, A Jehovah's Witness, Die 'In Vain'

Olga Lindberg remains consumed by the idea that her grandson died because of misguided faith, and she is driven to share her belief.


Saturday, February 23, 2008

Hunt For Alien Life To Expand Its Scope

Researching the prospects for life beyond our solar system is moving to the next level. Exoplanet hunters are getting instruments that promise to spot Earth-like planets around alien stars. In some cases, they may even yield crude estimates of how life-friendly such a planet may be.

Meanwhile, the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) is gaining new capacity to scan the heavens for alien signals. It could produce more analyzed data over the next two years than its researchers have collected over the past half century.


Saudi Arabia Arrests 57 Men For Flirting At Mall

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia - Saudi Arabia began interrogating 57 men Saturday who were arrested for flirting with women in front of a shopping mall in the holy city of Mecca, a local newspaper reported.


Shells Hit Baghdad's Green Zone

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- Rockets or mortars hit the U.S.-protected Green Zone early Saturday, the day after powerful Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr ordered his Mehdi Army militia to extend its cease-fire by another six months.


The Coming Religious Peace

Human beings have never lacked for things to fight over, but for the last two millennia, they have fought the most over ideas involving the divine. Politics, technology, military capacity, and diseases have all played decisive roles in shaping history, yet it is impossible to understand the rise and fall of empires, the clash of civilizations, and the evolving balance of power without appreciating the unique fervor that religion inspires, and the speed with which new religions can spread.


See also:

God's Country

Born Again


The new wars of religion

Friday, February 22, 2008

Moral Thinking

WHENCE morality? That is a question which has troubled philosophers since their subject was invented. Two and a half millennia of debate have, however, failed to produce a satisfactory answer. So now it is time for someone else to have a go. And at a panel discussion at the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting, a group of biologists did just that.


Priest Spent Church Money On Secret Family

RICHMOND, Virginia (AP) -- A retired Roman Catholic priest was sentenced to 63 months in prison for stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from his parishioners, money he used in part to support his secret family.


Turkey OKs Controversial Head Scarves Ruling

Story Highlights:

Constitutional amendment allowing head scarves in universities faces legal battle

President denies change violates Turkey's secular principles

Islam and secularism has vied for dominance in Turkey for decades

Change was pushed through a parliament where Islam-rooted party has majority


Al-Sadr Extends Mehdi Army Cease-Fire

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Iraqi Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has extended for six months the cease-fire he imposed last summer on his Mehdi Army militia, al-Sadr's office in Baghdad said Friday.


See also:

Iraqi Sunnis and Shiites work together, distrustfully

Morocco Says Terror Group Was Plotting To Kill Ministers

Moroccan authorities have rounded up a terrorist group accused of planning al-Qaida-type attacks in the North African country - and have banned a small Islamist political party allegedly linked to it.


Diocese: Former Priest Has HIV

A former Catholic priest who served several North Texas churches is HIV positive, according to a release from the Diocese of Fort Worth.

The diocese has alerted people who have lodged sexual misconduct allegations against Philip Magaldi that the defrocked priest has the disease linked to AIDS, according to the release.


Amish Community Fined Over Outhouse Controversy

BARR TOWNSHIP, Pa. -- Controversy over a manmade outhouse could end up with members of an Amish community in jail.


Iran Says God Protects Nuclear Program

TEHRAN, Iran - Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Sunday that God would punish Iranians if they do not support the country's disputed nuclear program, state radio reported.


Ontario's Helmet Law Discriminates Against Devout Sikhs

BRAMPTON, Ont. - Forcing a devout, motorcycle-riding Sikh to choose between his turban and a helmet is denying him the right to religious freedom, human rights lawyers argued Friday as Baljinder Badesha's fight against a $110 fine took on the character of a constitutional challenge.


'Most Britons Belong To No Religion'

A 23-page report by Asma Jahangir, the UN special rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, says that the 2001 census findings that nearly 72 per cent of the population is Christian can no longer be regarded as accurate. The report claims that two thirds of British people do not admit to any religious affiliation.


See also:

Oxford to study faith in God

Ripping Into The Bible

ON THE MORNING of December 7, 2007, Christopher Campbell walked into his English Honors class at Parker High School, prepared to tear out pages of the Bible.


UltraLove: The Medical Right Falls Hard For Ultrasounds

You've already met the Religious Right. Now meet its offspring, the Medical Right -- ideologically motivated pseudo-medical organizations that are shaping reproductive health care policy and practice to conform to their unscientific beliefs about "the beginning of life."


Genes Link Native Americans And Siberians

WASHINGTON -- People indigenous to Siberia have strong genetic links to native peoples in the Americas, according to a study further supporting the theory that humans first entered the Americas over a land bridge across the Bering Strait.


Thursday, February 21, 2008

Missing Link Found In Sydney Harbour

ONE of evolution's missing links has been found lurking in Sydney Harbour.

Although only a microscopic, single-celled creature, it has excited scientists around the world because it is the nearest relative yet found of a group of deadly parasites.


Virgin Mary Pretzel For Sale On EBay

Eugene, OR -- It's happened again. Someone has found something in the shape of the Virgin Mary. And they're trying to sell it on eBay.


As of Thursday afternoon, the bidding had reached $8,100.


Monopoly Contest Stirs Up Jerusalem Conflict

PROVIDENCE, Rhode Island -- Monopoly, the iconic game of capitalism, has been drawn into the dispute over Jerusalem.

Hasbro Inc. issued an apology Thursday after an employee, responding to complaints from pro-Palestinian groups, eliminated the word "Israel" after the city in an online contest to select names for a new Monopoly board game: Monopoly Here and Now: The World Edition.

The company also pulled all country names from other cities on the site when even more people complained, including the Israeli government, because Jerusalem was listed as the only city without a country.


Church Music Director Jailed For Child Porn

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. -- The former music director at a prominent Greenwich church was sentenced Thursday to 5 1/2 years in federal prison for possessing child pornography.


Tate was choir director for 34 years at Christ Church, creating a music program that gained an international reputation. Former President George H.W. Bush attended the church while growing up and funeral services for his parents were held there.


Prosecutors also contend that Tate had sexually abused children at home and abroad since the 1970s. Authorities said Tate picked up boy prostitutes in New York and brought them back to his apartment at the church for sexual contact and traveled to Thailand to have sex with boys. He was not charged with those crimes.


North West Frontier Goes Secular

AS THE party of Pakistan's assassinated former prime minister, Benazir Bhutto begins putting together a coalition after winning the most seats in the general election, one result will give encouragement -- the religious parties in the country's turbulent north-west have lost out badly.


See also:

Pakistan leaders agree on coalition

Morocco Busts Al Qaeda-Linked Terror Network Funded By Crime

Story Highlights:

Morocco destroyed network that raised funds through heists, holdups in Europe

Terror group plotted to kill Cabinet ministers, army officials, Jews

Morocco banned an Islamist political party, arrests leader

Police arrested 32 people in sweeps this week


Israeli MP Blames Gays For Recent Earthquakes

An Israeli parliamentarian said that several earthquakes felt in Israel recently were a consequence of gays and the parliament's acceptance of them.

Shlomo Benizri of the ultra-Orthodox Jewish Shas Party, said the way to stop the tremors was for parliament to reverse its trend of liberalising laws concerning homosexuals.


A cost-effective way of averting earthquake damage, he added, would be to stop "passing legislation on how to encourage homosexual activity in the state of Israel, which anyway brings about earthquakes".


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Gene Studies Confirm 'Out Of Africa' Theories

WASHINGTON -- Two big genetic studies confirm theories that modern humans evolved in Africa and then migrated through Europe and Asia to reach the Pacific and Americas.

The two studies also show that Africans have the most diverse DNA, and the fewest potentially harmful genetic mutations.


Iraqi Militia To Hear Saturday Whether To Resume Fighting

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- The Mehdi Army cease-fire that has been credited with helping to reduce violence in Iraq since August could end soon, a spokesman for the radical cleric who heads the Shiite militia said Wednesday.


See also:

Thousands of Darfur refugees trapped by fighting

Kosovo touts 'Islam Lite'

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Total Lunar Eclipse Feb. 20

For the third time in the past year, the moon will become completely immersed in the Earth's shadow on Feb. 20, resulting in a total lunar eclipse.


See also:

New forecasting method predicts solar storms

Farthest galaxy found ... perhaps


Astronomers find 2 new distant planets

Scientists and amateurs find new solar system

What space telescopes of tomorrow will see

Beatles Song 'Across The Universe" Beamed Into Space

Science Standards Will Call Evolution 'Scientific Theory'

Florida's State Board of Education has voted to use the term "scientific theory of evolution" in new science standards, the first time the word "evolution" has been included.


See also:

Florida adopts 'scientific theory of evolution'

Suicide Attack At Afghan Market Raises Two-Day Toll To About 140

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan -- A suicide car bomber killed 38 Afghans at a crowded market Monday, pushing the death toll from two days of bombings to about 140.


Iraq To Round Up Homeless, Mentally Ill, To Prevent Bombings

Story Highlights:

The move follows a pair of high-profile bombings that left almost 100 people dead

U.S. military: Al Qaeda in Iraq recruited female patients at psychiatric hospitals

Rocket-laden truck explodes in Baghdad; at least 15 police officers killed


See also:

Rocket blasts kill 15 at U.S. base in Baghdad

Uganda Rulers And Rebels Reach Conflict Deal

KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) -- Ugandan government and rebel negotiators signed a major agreement Tuesday on how the country will deal with crimes committed during a brutal 20-year insurgency in the north, mediators said.

The agreement outlines how Uganda should handle allegations of crimes against humanity and war crimes committed during an insurgency the Lord's Resistance Army has waged since 1987.


LRA fighters are notorious for cutting off the tongues and lips of civilians and abducting thousands of children, turning the girls into sex slaves and the boys into fighters.


Musharraf Faces Call To Resign

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (CNN) -- The ruling party of Pakistan's Pervez Musharraf admitted defeat in parliamentary elections Tuesday, and one senior opposition leader said it was time for the president to step down.


See also:

Musharraf's Exit Urged After Election Rout

Musharraf under pressure to resign

Israel's 'Hilltop Youth' Are Settling In

"God is the landlord."


See also:

A third of settlements on land taken for 'security purposes'

Financial Woes Force Church To Sell Private Jet

BROOKLYN PARK, Minn. (AP) -- Dwindling donations to the Living Word Christian Center in Brooklyn Park have prompted its high-profile pastor, Mac Hammond, to put his private business jet on the market.


Monday, February 18, 2008

Hopes Rise For Finding Alien Earths

BOSTON -- Rocky planets like Earth could be found around most sunlike stars in our galaxy, new research suggests, further raising hopes that scientists will someday find E.T. or at least primitive life beyond our solar system.


Gecko's Sticky Secrets Inspire New Bandages

The ultra-sticky feet that allow gecko lizards to climb walls and hang from ceilings have inspired scientists to create waterproof adhesive bandages that may offer a new way to patch up patients during surgery.


See also:

Scientists find 'Devil Toad' fossil

Vote Is Expected To Further Weaken Musharraf

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan -- Pakistanis began voting Monday morning in parliamentary elections that are expected to diminish President Pervez Musharraf further and present Washington with a challenging new political lineup here as it pursues its fight against the Taliban and Al Qaeda in the region.


See also:

Security forces reported at least four bombings at or near polling places

Pakistan Opposition Leads In Early Returns

Women barred from voting in parts of Pakistan


U.S. strikes within Pakistan -- without notice


Pakistanis Deal Severe Defeat to Musharraf in Election

Al Qaeda In Iraq 'Killing Off' Former Allies

BALAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Video provided to CNN shows an al Qaeda in Iraq firing squad executing one-time allies -- fellow Sunni extremists -- who were not loyal enough to the terror organization, coalition military analysts said.



Rockets Hit Iraq Housing Complex, Kill 5


Woman blows up Baghdad store after officers ask her to stop

See also:

Millions of Iraqis Living on the Edge

Food security and vulnerability analysis in Iraq

IRAQ: The Lights Have Gone Out, Who Cares

Iraqi medical system in deep trouble

Afghan Civilians Killed In Convoy Attack

KABUL (CNN) -- A suicide bomber rammed his car into a Canadian military convoy near Afghanistan's border with Pakistan Monday, killing 35 civilians, officials said.



Attack kills 82 in the worst atrocity since fall of Taliban

See also:

Fear Saps Vibrancy In Afghan Capital

Atheists An Increasingly Outspoken Minority

CHICAGO (CBS) -- In this presidential campaign season, Democrats and Republicans alike have declared their religious faith. They do it, in part, because they believe it wins political points. After all, the latest Harris polls show somewhere between 73 and 80 percent of Americans believe in God. But what about the rest?


Kosovo To Be "Democratic, Secular And Multiethnic"

Pristina -- Kosovo's president, prime minister and parliamentary speaker have declared their intentions to form a new state that will be "democratic, secular and multiethnic".


See also:

Serbs Protest New Kosovo Republic

Religious Superheroes Come Back Fighting In A Manga Comic Bible

He comes to town as a stranger, a silhouetted superhero ready to save the world. He's dark, he's moody and he deals in miracles. He is Christ.


Religion Joins Custody Cases, to Judges' Unease

Across the country, child-custody disputes in which religion is the flash point are increasing, part of a broader rise in custody conflicts over the last 30 years, lawyers, judges and mediators say.


Atheist Group Calls Former Church Home

The Atlanta Freethought Society, an educational organization for atheists and agnostics, will begin meeting this spring at the former Collins Springs Primitive Baptist Church in Smyrna.


A Debate Created In America

A growing number of creationists are waging 'culture war' in Europe against evolution in schools.


Sunday, February 17, 2008

Wikipedia Defies 180,000 Demands To Remove Images Of The Prophet

Wikipedia, the free online encyclopaedia, is refusing to remove medieval artistic depictions of the Prophet Muhammad, despite being flooded with complaints from Muslims demanding the images be deleted.


Muslim Cartoon Causes Rift Between Denmark And Iran

Danish MPs have decided not to go ahead with a trip to Iran after they were ordered to apologise for the republication of cartoons deemed offensive to Islam.


Female Suicide Bomber Kills 3 In Iraq

BAGHDAD - A female suicide bomber blew herself up in a predominantly Shiite area in central Baghdad on Sunday morning, killing at least three people and wounding 10, police said.


Dozens Dead, Wounded In Kandahar Bombing

KABUL, Afghanistan (CNN) -- A suicide bomb exploded in a crowd of people gathering to watch dog fighting, killing at least 80 people and wounding dozens more in the western section of Kandahar, Afghanistan Sunday morning, according to Afghan officials


Israel Kills 4 Palestinians In Gaza Operation

JERUSALEM (CNN) -- An Israeli airstrike killed at least three Palestinians and wounded 16 others Sunday in the southern Gaza city of Rafah, Palestinian and Israeli sources said.


Texas Diocese Settles Priest Abuse Suit

FORT WORTH, Texas -- The Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth has settled another lawsuit alleging abuse by a priest now serving prison time for raping a boy, church officials said Friday.


Public: Faith Trumps Science

Proposed teaching standards are at odds with what most Floridians believe.


Saturday, February 16, 2008

Car Bomb Kills 37 Ahead Of Pakistan Vote

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (CNN) -- A car bomb killed 37 people and wounded 93 Saturday in northern Pakistan when it exploded in front of an election office of the opposition Pakistan People's Party, the Pakistani Interior Ministry said.


See also:

Pre-Election Day Violence Scars Pakistan

Pakistan AG 'predicts vote-rigging'

Story Of Jesus Through Iranian Eyes

A new movie in Iran depicts the life of Jesus from an Islamic perspective. "The Messiah," which some consider as Iran's answer to Mel Gibson's "Passion of the Christ," won an award at Rome's Religion Today Film Festival, for generating interfaith dialogue. The movie will be adapted into a television series, shown on Iranian TV later this year.


Does Islamic Law Have A Place In The U.K.?

The Archbishop of Canterbury sure kicked up a storm when he suggested Islamic Shariah law has a place in British society. His words upset a lot of people, including the Queen, politicians, the media and even some Muslims.


Cartoon Reprint Reignites Fiery Protests

(AP) Muslims protested Friday in the Gaza Strip, Pakistan and Denmark against the reprinting of a Danish newspaper cartoon depicting the Islamic prophet Muhammad.


Muslim Cleric Protests New Indian Visa For Bangladeshi Writer

KOLKATA, India (AFP) -- Scores of Muslims led by a radical cleric protested Friday against India's decision to extend the visa of threatened Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen, who is in hiding in New Delhi.


Anglican Boycott Over Gay Bishop

NEW YORK (AP) -- Leaders from five Anglican provinces said Friday they will boycott a once-a-decade world Anglican summit because the U.S. Episcopal Church ordained a gay bishop.


Friday, February 15, 2008

FreeThoughtAction Hero Of The Day - 02/15/08

Susan B. AnthonySusan B. Anthony (February 15, 1820 - March 13, 1906)

According to Wikipedia, Anthony "was a prominent American civil rights leader who played a pivotal role in the 19th century women's rights movement to secure women's suffrage in the United States. She traveled the United States and Europe, and gave 75 to 100 speeches per year on women's rights for some 45 years....

"Susan B. Anthony, who died 14 years, 5 months and 5 days before passage of the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote, was honored as the first real (non-allegorical) American woman on circulating U.S. coinage with her appearance on the Susan B. Anthony dollar."


The religious persecution of the ages has been done under what was claimed to be the command of God.

I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do because I notice it always coincides with their own desires.

What you should say to outsiders is that a Christian has neither more nor less rights in our Association than an atheist. When our platform becomes too narrow for people of all creeds and of no creeds, I myself shall not stand upon it.


Happy Birthday to Freethinker Matt Groening

Church-State Watchdog Group Says Proposed Constitutional Amendments Would Allow For Public Funding Of Religion

Efforts to repeal a provision in the Florida Constitution that bars government funding of religious institutions should be rejected, says Americans United for Separation of Church and State.


US-IRAQ: Surge Exposing Political Tensions

With the five-year anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion looming, two Washington think-tanks released reports today on the subject of increasing multi-lateral sectarian tensions in Iraq.


See also:

Awakening to New Dangers in Iraq

Sunni Infighting Threatens Iraq's Stability

Rift threatens U.S. antidote to Al Qaeda in Iraq

U.N. to Help Organize Iraqi Elections Set for October

Muqtada, the man who would be ayatollah

The enigma of Muqtada al-Sadr

About 4.4 million Iraqis have been forced from their homes

Afghanistan's Refugee Crisis 'Ignored'

A growing humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan is being overlooked as an unknown number of people are fleeing their homes, caught between security forces and the Taliban.


Hezbollah Mourns Slain Militant, Vows Revenge

BEIRUT, Lebanon -- The chief of Hezbollah told throngs of supporters at a funeral for slain commander Imad Moughnieh his group would retaliate against Israeli targets anywhere in the world after accusing the Jewish state of killing the militant.


See also:

Hezbollah leader: Israel faces 'open war'

Nasrallah: Mughniyah's blood will lead to elimination of Israel

Two Beirut rallies. Two visions for Lebanon

On Darwin's Birthday, Dover Still Isn't Over

Charles Darwin was born 199 years ago Tuesday, but the debate he ignited about the origins of species rages on. Florida's department of education will vote next week on a new science curriculum that could be in jeopardy, because some conservative counties oppose it.

Nine of Florida's 64 counties have passed resolutions over the last two months condemning the new curriculum that explicitly calls for teaching evolution. The resolutions, passed in heavily Christian counties in the state's northern reaches, demand that evolution be "balanced" with alternative theories, mainly creationist.


College Courses Target Church Embezzlers

PHILADELPHIA -- The globe-trotting priest from Connecticut drove a Jaguar, shopped at Bergdorf Goodman and bought jewelry from Cartier, all of it with money stolen from his church's coffers. By the time the parish finance council caught on, he had embezzled $1.3 million.


Pastor: IRS Probes Huckabee Endorsement

BUENA PARK, Calif. (AP) - Southern Baptist pastor Wiley Drake said Wednesday that he is being investigated by the Internal Revenue Service for his endorsement of GOP presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee in a press release written on church stationery.


See also:

Americans United Commends IRS For Investigation Into Partisan Politicking By California Church

IRS Target Wiley Drake Asks Followers To Engage In Imprecatory Prayers Against Americans United Staff Members

Kansas School Won't Let Female Ref Call Boys' Game

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Kansas activities officials are investigating a school's refusal to let a female referee call a boys' high school basketball game.

The Kansas State High School Activities Association said referees reported that Michelle Campbell was preparing to officiate at St. Mary's Academy near Topeka on Feb. 2 when a school official insisted that Campbell could not call the game.

The reason given, according to the referees: Campbell, as a woman, could not be put in a position of authority over boys because of the academy's beliefs.


A Burning Devotion

The ancient ritual of burning paper replicas, or dzi-dzat, to send into the afterlife has kept pace with modern times: paper laptops and cellphones are burned along with bank notes and model mansions.


Council Pays Psychic For Exorcism

BBC -- Easington Council employed medium Suzanne Hadwin after Peterlee tenant Sabrina Fallon reported paranormal activity including moving objects.


Zapatero Tells Church To Stop Election Meddling

A row between church and state over Spain's forthcoming elections came to a head last night when the Socialist prime minister met the Vatican's envoy in Madrid to insist that bishops stop urging people to vote for the opposition.


Knesset Nixes Secular Marriage Rights

The Knesset on Wednesday rejected two bills calling for the state to recognize the rights of couples who did not marry in religious ceremonies.


Newspapers Reprint Controversial Mohamed Cartoon

Denmark's leading newspapers today reprinted a cartoon that depicts the Prophet Mohamed wearing a bomb-shaped turban.



Three arrested in Denmark over plot to kill Muhammad cartoonist


Iran condemns reprinting of Muhammad cartoon

Saudi Woman Faces Death For Witchcraft

A human rights group appealed to Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah yesterday to stop the execution of a woman accused of witchcraft.


See also:

Arab states plan TV crackdown

Muslims Protest Wikipedia Images Of Mohammed

San Francisco ( - More than 100,000 signatures have been collected to protest the images of Mohammed that appear on the English-language section of the online reference site, Wikipedia.


US Military Accused Of Harboring Fundamentalism

Since his last combat deployment in Iraq, Jeremy Hall has had a rough time, getting shoved and threatened by his fellow soldiers. The trouble started there when he would not pray in the mess hall.


Smaller Version Of The Solar System Is Discovered

Astronomers said Wednesday that they had found a miniature version of our own solar system 5,000 light-years across the galaxy -- the first planetary system that really looks like our own, with outer giant planets and room for smaller inner planets.


Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Happy Darwin Day!

DarwinToday marks the 199th birthday of Charles Darwin (February 12, 1809 - April 19, 1882), perhaps the ultimate FreeThoughtAction hero.

According to Wikipedia, Darwin "was an eminent English naturalist who achieved lasting fame by convincing the scientific community that species develop over time from a common origin. His theories explaining this phenomenon through natural and sexual selection are central to the modern understanding of evolution as the unifying theory of the life sciences, essential in biology and important in other disciplines such as anthropology, psychology and philosophy."

Darwin's 1859 publication of On the Origin of Species and his 1871 The Descent of Man not only unified the life sciences, it revolutionized human thought, overturning the argument from design (or teleological argument), that had prevailed for thousands of years.

Special News For Darwin Day!

(Washington, D.C.) On the anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin, a day known internationally as Darwin Day, the American Humanist Association announced an award to one of the foremost defenders of evolution in public schools. Judge John E. Jones III of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania will receive the organization's Humanist Religious Liberty Award. It will be presented Saturday afternoon, June 7, 2008, at the World Humanist Congress to be held in Washington, D.C.

Judge Jones became nationally famous overnight when, on December 20, 2005, he ruled the teaching of "intelligent design" unconstitutional in public schools. His landmark decision in Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District set off a firestorm of criticism from the right wing. Phyllis Schlafly, Bill O'Reilly, and the Discovery Institute labeled Jones an "activist judge"--he even received death threats. But Jones has stood firm on his decision and remains outspoken on the point that intelligent design is a species of creationism and, as such, is a religious doctrine that cannot be taught as science in public schools.

"We humanists are honored that Judge Jones has agreed to accept the 2008 Humanist Religious Liberty Award and address the international gathering at the World Humanist Congress," said Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association. "We could think of no better day than Darwin Day to let the world know of this award and his acceptance--and of our support for all that he's done to ensure the religious neutrality of our public schools and a state-of-the-art science education for our children."

Darwin Day is an international humanist celebration held every February 12th to honor Darwin and the modern theory of evolution. Darwin was born in 1809 and this is his 199th birthday. Among the more than 100 chapters and local affiliates of the American Humanist Association, operating in cities from coast to coast, Darwin Day is widely celebrated. More information on specific celebrations worldwide can be foundat:

And next year, in 2009, the celebration will be the largest ever, honoring Darwin's bicentennial. "We are looking forward to the biggest bash of the decade," declared Fred Edwords, the American Humanist Association director of communications.


Florida State School Board Should Reject Religious Right Effort To Weaken Science Standards

Americans United for Separation of Church and State today urged the Florida State Board of Education to reject a Religious Right drive to weaken proposed new science standards.


Hateful Response To "Imagine No Religion" Message

It is hard to credit how one little freethought billboard could create such insecurity by religionists! The Freedom From Religion Foundation's pretty billboard, with its wistful, John Lennon-inspired message, "Imagine No Religion," has been attacked by not just one, but two billboards in Chambersburg, Penn. The Foundation image was placed in December for six months in three rotating spots in Chambersburg, Penn., thanks to the generosity of a Chambersburg-area Foundation member seeking to make a freethought statement in a religion-drenched area.


Great Seal Of U.S. Mysteries Revealed

US Great Seal

(AP) Conspiracy theorists take note: The myths surrounding one of America's oldest and most enduring national symbols are about to be debunked ... if you believe the government, that is.

The keepers of the Great Seal of the United States, the familiar emblem on the back of the $1 bill, want you to know what it is not. It is not a sign that Freemasons run the country, it has nothing to do with the occult, and it does not contain clues to a fabulous hidden treasure.


Partial summary of statements by Joseph Campbell on the symbolism contained in the Great Seal:


The eagle is the incarnation principle of the deity, the American counterpart of the eagle of Zeus, the highest god. The eagle is the downcoming of the god into the field of time - descending into the world of the pairs of opposites, which is the field of action. Thirteen arrows in one claw for war, a laurel leaf with thirteen leaves for peace in the other. The eagle is looking toward peace.

Above his head are thirteen stars in the form of Solomon's Seal. Each triangle is a Pythagorean tetrakys, where the apex represents the creative center, out of which energy, the universe and everything comes.

As soon as this energy enters the field of time, it breaks into pairs of opposites. When you have two, you have three ways of relationship; this one dominant over that one, that one dominant over this one, or both balanced in accord. From these three relationships, all things in the four quarters of space derive (out of Tao - the transcendent - comes the One; out of One come Two; out of Two come Three; out of Three come all things). Two of these symbolic triangles are interlocked on the Great Seal, creating thirteen points with six apexes - one above, one below, and four in the four quarters. The sense of this is that from above or below or from any point of the compass, the creative Word might be heard, so that anyone from any quarter might speak the truth, because no one is cut off from it.

This is the great thesis of democracy.


There are thirteen ranges on the pyramid, this is the number of states and the number of transformation, resurrection, and rebirth or new life.

The desert behind the pyramid is representitive of the past; the plants in the foreground are representitive of the future.

The pyramid has four sides. These are the four points of a compass. Someone could be at any point at the lower levels of the pyramid. When you get to the top, all the points come together and the eye of the God of Reason opens up.

We were the first nation established on the basis of reason. It symbolizes that all people in the world are capable of reason, without special revelation or authority reserved for the privileged.

This is the fundamental principle of democracy.

Retailer Halts Sales Of 'Jesus' Cosmetics

SINGAPORE - A cosmetics range with cheeky taglines that extolled the virtues of "Looking Good for Jesus" has been pulled from stores in Singapore after some Roman Catholics complained the items were disrespectful, a newspaper reported Tuesday.

Promising to "Redeem your reputation and more," the product line included a "virtuous vanilla"-flavored lip balm and a "Get Tight with Christ" hand and body cream, as well as bags and other items sold by British retailer Topshop and produced by Blue Q, The Straits Times said.


On the packaging of one of the products, Jesus, wearing a bright white robe, looks heavenward while a blonde, heavily made-up woman with an arm draped across his shoulder gazes dreamily at his face.


Calif. Company Claims Faster, Cheaper Gene Map

WASHINGTON - A California company predicts it will soon be able to sequence an entire human gene map in four minutes, for just $1,000.


Dogs Alert Master To Fire, Then Perish

(AP) Bella, a 3-year-old golden retriever/collie mix who was once rescued as an abused puppy, returned the favor to her owners by alerting them to a house fire.


Bella had jumped on Feuling's bed early Friday morning and started barking, and Feuling then smelled smoke, grabbed her daughter and rushed out of the house. But Feuling couldn't coax the dogs out of the house, even when she tried to run back in to yell for them.

"Bella must have thought Mckenzie was still in the house," Feuling said.


U.S. Forces Find 13 Bodies In Iraq Mass Grave

BAGHDAD - U.S. forces have found the bodies of 13 men in a mass grave in Iraq's restive Diyala province northeast of Baghdad, police said on Tuesday, the latest such grisly find in recent months.


'Terror Plot' To Kill Mohammed Cartoonist

(CNN) -- Danish authorities said Tuesday they have arrested three people who allegedly were plotting a "terror-related assassination" of a cartoonist whose drawing of the Prophet Mohammed sparked rage in the Muslim world two years ago.


Top Anglicans Rally To Besieged Archbishop

CAMBRIDGE, England -- The archbishop of Canterbury received a strong show of support from the Church of England's top clerics and laymen on Monday in response to demands for his resignation over his call for Britain to accept some aspects of Shariah, the legal code of Islam based on the Koran.


Livingston Parish Council Refuses To Repeal Soothsaying Ban

A proposal to repeal the Livingston Parish ordinance outlawing soothsaying died in silence last night before the Parish Council.

The council ignored the recommendation of its attorney, Blayne Honeycutt, who had advised council members to repeal the ordinance in the face of a Wiccan minister's federal lawsuit, which Honeycutt said the parish probably will lose.

A Wiccan woman asked the council to repeal the ordinance, which she said makes unlawful a practice of a recognized religion.


Man Finds Jesus Image In Tree

People say Jesus spreads his message in a lot of different ways and interesting places. His image has been seen in a potato, a piece of granite and now a log.


Monday, February 11, 2008

Open Letter To President Putin From The Members Of The Russian Academy Of Sciences

We have watched with deepening concern the increasing clericalization of Russian society, the Church's infiltration of all areas of public life. The Constitution of the Russian Federation declares our country to be secular and separates the Church from the public education system. We address this letter to you as the holder of the highest office in this country and guarantor of the Constitution's basic principles.


Gecko Inspires New Glue

Inspired by the gravity-defying, rapid attach-and-release movement of geckos scampering up vertical surfaces, scientists have invented a non-sticky adhesive that mimics the reptiles' padded feet and actually gets stronger with use.


Writer Sues Mel Gibson Over 'Passion' Script

Scribe claims actor 'callously and greedily exploited' him.


No Red Roses For Saudi Sweethearts

RIYADH - Saudi Arabia's religious police have banned red roses ahead of Valentine's Day, forcing couples in the conservative Muslim nation to think of new ways to show their love.

The Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice has ordered florists and gift shop owners in the capital Riyadh to remove any items colored scarlet, which is widely seen as symbolizing love, newspapers said.


Enraged Over Injured Boy

JERUSALEM (CNN) -- After an 8-year-old boy lost his leg in a rocket attack over the weekend, angry residents of Sderot in southern Israel protested in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem Monday, demanding the government do more to prevent such attacks on their town.


See also:

Fearing Israeli attacks, Hamas leaders hide

Al Qaeda's New Face Of Terror: American?

(CBS) U.S. officials are increasingly worried that the next attack on America could be carried out by Americans trained in terror tactics inside al Qaeda's safe-haven in Pakistan.


See also:

DHS: Bombers may use 'pregnancy prosthetics'

U.S. seeks death penalty for 9/11 suspects

Suicide Bomber Kills 25 In Iraqi Market

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- A suicide car bomb detonated Sunday evening near a market in Balad, killing at least 25 people and wounding 40 others, an Interior Ministry official said.


See also:

North Iraq Blasts Kill Dozens

Suicide car bomber kills 21 in Iraq

Conflicts Deepen Between Local Iraqi Governments and US-Backed Sunni Groups

America's Sunni allies go on strike in Iraq's Diyala province

Anti-Qaeda fighters in street protest against city police chief

More Bombing Creates New Enemies


Death squads undoing surge's progress

Arming Iraq's Future Street Gangs?

Sunni militiamen demand police jobs to fight Al-Qaeda

The Iraqi Displacement Crisis

U.S. Deficient Against Muslim Insurgents, Study Says

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The U.S. military is seriously deficient in meeting "the threat of Islamist insurgencies," says a Pentagon-commissioned study released Monday.

The Rand Corp. report characterizes "U.S. military intervention and occupation in the Muslim world" as "at best inadequate, at worst counter-productive, and, on the whole, infeasible." The Pentagon asked the nonprofit research organization to review strategies to thwart insurgents.


See also:

Army Buried Study Faulting Iraq Planning

Conservative Rabbis To Vote On Resolution Criticizing Pope's Revision Of Prayer

The revision of a contentious Good Friday prayer approved this week by Pope Benedict XVI could set back Jewish-Catholic relations, Conservative Judaism's international assembly of rabbis says in a resolution to be voted on next week.

The prayer calls for God to enlighten the hearts of Jews "so that they may acknowledge Jesus Christ, the savior of all men."


Battle Of The Chambersburg Billboards

Chambersburg has become the battleground of dueling billboards on the subject of faith and religion.


[Note the lack of effort by the reporter to obtain any a contrary opinion in the piece above. There is no comment from FFRF, no comment from an atheist, and no comment from even a neutral source. It is totally unbalanced reporting without even the pretence of objectivity or even-handedness.]

See also THIS.

Religious Symbols To Be Removed From Chapel

The Beckley Veterans Affairs Medical Center has taken steps to remove faith-specific symbols from its chapel, said Debbie Voloski, the hospital's public affairs director.

Similar actions are being taken at VA hospitals nationwide as the VA attempts to enforce its own policy enacted in July 1953 that states, "Chapels will be appointed and maintained as places for meditation and prayer for members of any faith group or denomination."


Exorcism Undergoes A Revival Across Europe

Citing modern ills, hundreds of priests have trained to expel the devil.


Friday, February 08, 2008

Darwin Day Celebrations

All Celebrations for Darwin, Science and Humanity to take place on/or near February 12th, 2008


Public Funds Should Not Support Coercive Faith-Based Ministries

Tax dollars should not be used to support prison ministry programs that coerce inmates into participation, says Americans United for Separation of Church and State.


The Passion of 'Anonymous'

A loose-knit consortium of hackers and activists calling itself "Anonymous" has declared "war" on the organization.


Violations Of 'Islamic Teachings' Take Deadly Toll On Iraqi Women

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- The images in the Basra police file are nauseating: Page after page of women killed in brutal fashion -- some strangled to death, their faces disfigured; others beheaded. All bear signs of torture.

The women are killed, police say, because they failed to wear a headscarf or because they ignored other "rules" that secretive fundamentalist groups want to enforce.


Jailed Cleric Abu Hamza To Be Extradited To US

London -- The Muslim cleric Abu Hamza will be extradited to the United States to face terror charges, the Home Office has announced.


See also:

9/11 terror suspect extradited to Spain

Officials Identify Child Rape Suspect Killed By Deputies

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. -- Officials have released the name of child rape suspect shot and killed by deputies Wednesday afternoon. They say Geoffrey Shaub had molested a 7-year-old Orlando boy.

Schaub also is believed to have multiple victims that he raped in both Orange County and the city of Orlando. Since the shooting, investigators were seen pulling bags and boxes of evidence from his home in a rural east Orange County neighborhood.


Schaub was also an ordained minister who worked as a custodian at the Oviedo Presbytarian Church. Pastor Paul Ogne would not answer when asked if he knew Schaub was a sex offender. Ogne said that was part of his pastor/member confidentiality. He did praise his part-time custodian and fill-in pastor who recently graduated from an Oviedo seminary with a masters in biblical studies.


UK PM Rejects Special Laws For Muslims

LONDON, England (CNN) -- The UK's leading Christian leader has drawn fierce government criticism after he suggested that Islamic -- or Sharia -- law be used to resolve financial and domestic issues between UK Muslims.


Thursday, February 07, 2008

A "Holy Grail" Of Healing

This powder is a medical product called extracellular matrix. Made from pig bladders, it is a mix of protein and connective tissue surgeons often use to repair tendons. But it's the matrix's unusual power to regenerate tissue that's helping launch a new field: regenerative medicine.


If this helped Mr Spievak's finger re-grow, could you grow a whole limb?

"In theory," Badalyk said.


Where'd Ya Get Those Baby Blues?

Danish geneticists say everyone with blue eyes is not just related, but descended from one person.


Brown, they say, is the default color for human eyes ... produced by melanin.

Blue eyes are caused by a genetic switch, programmed to suppress the melanin. It's a genetic mutation.


The first blue eyed person was probably born near the Black Sea just 10,000 years ago when the entire population of the world was less than 50,000.


Al-Qaeda Targets Hearts, Minds

MOSUL, Iraq -- Al-Qaeda militants operating here have shifted tactics to try to improve their image among Iraqis and avoid the mass civilian killings that alienated the public in Baghdad and other cities, the U.S. military says.

The changes include warning locals to take cover before bomb attacks, relaxing the enforcement of strict Islamic laws and staging fewer attacks on Iraqi police.


See also:

Mosul, the next major test for the U.S. military in Iraq

Shia Call on Mehdi Army to Take Up Arms Again in Iraq

Islamic Fanatic 'Wanted To Groom His Three-Year-Old Daughter To Marry A Terrorist'

The fanatic who plotted to kidnap and behead a British soldier wanted his three-year-old daughter to marry a jihadi terrorist, a court heard.


Religious Police In Saudi Arabia Arrest Mother For Sitting With A Man

A 37-year-old American businesswoman and married mother of three is seeking justice after she was thrown in jail by Saudi Arabia's religious police for sitting with a male colleague at a Starbucks coffee shop in Riyadh.


First Jesus Potato, Now Virgin Mary Pancake?

Two weeks before National Pancake Day, one Houston area family celebrated by preparing some 'flapjacks.' They were stunned when they saw a sacred Christian image on the egg-flour product.


Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Atheist Sees Image Of Big Bang In Slice Of Toast

Huddlesfield, UK Excitement is growing in this northern England town following news that a local man saw an image of the Big Bang in a piece of toast. Thirty-six year old atheist Donald Chapman was sitting down for breakfast when an unusual toast pattern caught his eye.

"I was just about to spread the butter when I noticed a fairly typical small hole in the bread surrounded by a burnt black ring," Chapman told local newspaper The Huddlesfield Express. "However the direction and splatter patterns of the crumbs, as well as the changing shades emanating outwards from this black hole, were very clearly similar to the chaotic-dynamic non-linear patterns that one would expect following the Big Bang. It's the beginning of the world!" he added excitedly.


Humanists Monitor Church Polling Places

The American Humanist Association announced today that, during the presidential primaries, it is encouraging its 10,000 members and 110 local chapters and affiliates nationwide to take special note of those polling places that are set up in churches. "We are on the lookout for politicized religious propaganda and blatant religious symbolism that may influence voters," declared American Humanist Association President Mel Lipman, a civil-liberties attorney and professor of constitutional law. "We stand ready to take legal action wherever a religiously charged and politically biased atmosphere is created at the polls."

Through its legal arm, the Appignani Humanist Legal Center, the Association filed just such a suit in November 2006. The case, Rabinowitz v. Anderson, involved Emmanuel Catholic Church in Delray Beach, Florida. Plaintiff Jerry Rabinowitz had been assigned to vote there and alleged that, to enter the polling place, he found it necessary to walk past a church-sponsored "pro-life" banner framed by multiple giant crosses. Then, in the voting area itself, he observed many religious symbols in plain view, both surrounding the election officials and in direct line above the voting machines.

Though not prevailing in that case, the legal center has honed its arguments and vows to relaunch the litigation in another jurisdiction. (Further details of this case are available online at

Churches are the most common polling locations in America. Some states and local governments have rules that require the covering of religious symbols during such use, but others do not. Lack of sensitivity in this matter has resulted in new complaints, such as one during the Florida primaries last Saturday where an Ormond Beach resident, voting at Prince of Peace Catholic Church, declared she was confronted by rows of white crosses symbolizing "4,000 babies aborted daily in the USA." For the forthcoming Massachusetts primary, religious symbols at Our Lady of Good Counsel Church in West Boylston were slated to be covered or removed during voting, but that plan was abandoned when the Secretary of State's office declared no Massachusetts law requires it.

"We want to protect voters and the voting process from anything that may serve to intimidate or unduly influence those entering the polls," noted Bob Ritter, a civil-liberties attorney and legal coordinator for the Appignani Humanist Legal Center. "America's polling places should be oases of freedom in a sea of political and social pressure."

Lipman concluded: "Recent studies reveal that environmental cues have a measurable effect on electoral results. Therefore, the government must provide a neutral setting for voters, free from religious or other influences."

The Appignani Humanist Legal Center is part of the American Humanist Association. Consisting of over two dozen humanist lawyers and backed by humanists from coast to coast, it is the first nontheistic legal center in the nation's capital.

Atheist Campus Group Denied Recognition

While the Campus Clubs department understands the goals and visions of your organization, they are not compatible with the guidelines of what may be approved and incorporated into our department. While the promotion of reason, science and freedom of inquiry are perfectly legitimate goals, what is most in question in regards to your club's vision is the promotion of "a fulfilling life without religion and superstition."


Americans United Urges IRS To Investigate Two Religious Right Groups For Biased Voter Guides

The Internal Revenue Service should investigate two prominent tax-exempt Religious Right groups that produced biased voter guides for the presidential election, according to Americans United for Separation of Church and State.



Americans United Cautions Southern Baptist Convention About Partisan Politicking

Study Suggests No Dearth Of Earths

Supposedly, there's no place like home. But a new study suggests that earthlike planets orbit or are forming around many, if not most, nearby sunlike stars, providing places where life might have gained a foothold.


See also:

Exploding black holes could expose hidden dimensions

Key to fusion power may be found in space

Scientists explain vapor plume on Saturn moon

Sprinting Down The Evolutionary Highway

Far from having stopped, the pace of 'advantageous mutation' is moving much faster than we thought, a new study discovers.


See also:

A Mutant Obsession

An Altar Beyond Olympus For A Deity Predating Zeus

PHILADELPHIA -- Before Zeus hurled his first thunderbolt from Olympus, the pre-Greek people occupying the land presumably paid homage and offered sacrifices to their own gods and goddesses, whose nature and identities are unknown to scholars today.