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

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

Breaking News!

5-26-16 U.S. Religious Groups Disagree on Five Key Moral Issues
U.S. Religious Groups Disagree on Five Key Moral Issues
Americans' religious faith greatly shapes their views of whether moral issues or practices are acceptable or not. In general, Jews and those with no religious preference are more liberal than Protestants, Catholics and Mormons in their views on various moral issues. These differences are most apparent on abortion and, to a lesser extent, doctor-assisted suicide and animal cloning. Catholics join with Jews and nonreligious Americans in saying gay-lesbian relations and out-of-wedlock births are morally OK.

  • Jews, nonreligious tend to be most liberal on morality
  • Catholics say out-of-wedlock births, gay-lesbian relations moral
  • Only Mormons view premarital sex, gambling as immoral

Moral Issues on Which Major U.S. Religious Group Disagree
Percentage saying each is "morally acceptable"

Religious Group  No Religion Jewish Catholic Protestant Mormon
Moral Issue % % % % %
Abortion 73 76 38 33 18
Doctor-assisted suicide 77 73 47 43 30
Cloning animals 50 50 33 28 33
Gay-lesbian relations 83 85 62 41 28
Having a baby outside of marriage 80 68 59 47 25
Average  73 70 48 38 27

(Webmaster's comment: It's really obvious who are the true friends of liberal, progressive causes. And it's not the Catholics, Protestants, or Mormans. But amazingly of those the Catholics are the most liberal and progressive.)

5-31-16 What does modern slavery look like?
What does modern slavery look like?
More than 45 million people are living in modern slavery, with Asia accounting for two thirds of the victims, a new report says. The 2016 Global Slavery Index, from the Walk Free Foundation in Australia, defines slavery as "situations of exploitation that a person cannot refuse or leave because of threats, violence, coercion, abuse of power or deception". Modern forms of slavery can include debt bondage, where a person is forced to work for free to pay off a debt, child slavery, forced marriage, domestic servitude and forced labour, where victims are made to work through violence and intimidation.

  • The seafood industry: Thousands of people are trafficked and forced to work on fishing boats, where they can be kept for years without ever seeing the shore.
  • Cannabis factories and nail bars: About 3,000 children from Vietnam alone are thought to be working in British cannabis farms and nail bars.
  • Sexual slavery: There are 4.5 million victims of forced sexual exploitation.
  • Forced begging: Many children across Europe, Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East are forced to beg on the streets by criminals.
  • Behind closed doors: Much modern slavery isn't visible in public. It takes place in homes and private farms.

5-30-16 Why is Guantanamo Bay detention centre still open?
Why is Guantanamo Bay detention centre still open?
The BBC's Aleem Maqbool reports from inside Guantanamo Bay detention centre, which is still open, despite President Obama vowing to shut it down eight years ago.

5-27-16 Trump's a liar, plain and simple
Trump's a liar, plain and simple
Only 2 percent of the claims Donald Trump has made during his presidential campaign have been true, according to the fact-check organization ­ Six percent were mostly true, 15 per­cent were half true, another 15 per­cent were mostly false, 43 per­cent were false, and 18 per­cent were “pants on fire” lies. His 76 per­cent “false” rating far exceeds that of all other candidates who ran for president.

5-27-16 Controversial software claims to tell personality from your face
Controversial software claims to tell personality from your face
A start-up says its face-recognition tech can identify people's personality type from photos – and spot terrorists, paedophiles and poker players in crowds. Can software identify complex personality traits simply by analysing your face? Faception, a start-up based in Tel Aviv, Israel, courted controversy this week when it claimed its tech does just that. And not just broad categories such as introvert or extrovert: Faception claims it can spot terrorists, paedophiles – and brand promoters. Faception’s algorithm scours images of a person from a variety of sources, including uploaded photos, live-streamed video and mugshots in a database. It then encodes facial features, including width and height ratio, and key points – for example, the corners of the eyes or mouth. The controversial part is what happens next. Faception maps these features onto a set of 15 proprietary “classifiers” that it has developed over the past three years. Its categories include terrorist, paedophile, white-collar criminal, poker player, bingo player and academic. (Webmaster's comment: This is really good and and really bad! The issues are huge!)

5-27-16 Health benefits of church
Health benefits of church
People who attend religious services a couple of times a week may live longer, a new study suggests. Harvard University researchers analyzed data from the Nurses’ Health Study, a survey of 74,534 healthy, primarily Christian women. At the start of the study in 1992, participants were all asked how often they went to church; the researchers then tracked them for 20 years. By 2012, 13,537 of the women had died. After adjusting for other risk factors, it turned out that the ones who attended services more than once a week were 33 percent less likely to have died of any cause than those who never went at all. Overall, going to church at least once a week was associated with a lifespan increase of about five months. “There is evidence that it provides social support, discourages smoking, decreases depression, and promotes optimism or hope,” study author Tyler VanderWeele tells Based on previous research, however, the church effect “may not be as strong for men as it is for women.”

5-27-16 Sinful Lifestyle
Sinful Lifestyle
A Wisconsin Christian school that receives federal funding is demanding to see all applicants’ birth certificates to make sure none are transgender. St. John’s Lutheran officials admit they can’t legally discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, but say they’re letting students with a “sinful lifestyle’’ know “where we’re coming from,” to avoid having “to weed them out’’ after they’re enrolled.

5-27-16 A transwoman’s bathroom experiences
A transwoman’s bathroom experiences
DAfter I came out as a transwoman, my co-workers took it in stride—until my boss came to talk to me about bathrooms, said Meredith Russo. She told me I had to use the men’s room. Every time I encountered men in the bathroom in my skirt and makeup, they’d act startled, assuming they’d accidentally entered the women’s room, and then glare at me or angrily insist I should be in the women’s room. “It got so bad that I stopped going to the bathroom at work altogether,” and developed a urinary tract infection. People justify the new spate of “bathroom laws” by raising the specter of heterosexual men wearing women’s clothes to prey on girls and women in bathrooms. But there is no evidence that this is happening anywhere in a statistically significant way. What these laws would unquestionably do, however, is put people who now have a woman’s identity and appearance in men’s rooms, and transmen with beards and muscles in women’s rooms—making everyone unhappy, and people like me afraid we’ll be assaulted, fired, or arrested. Please: “We are much more frightened of you than you are of us.”

5-27-16 The gobsmacking racism of America's criminal justice system
The gobsmacking racism of America's criminal justice system
Earlier this week the Supreme Court issued a near-unanimous ruling that the state of Georgia must retry Timothy Foster, a black death-row inmate convicted by an all-white jury of the murder of Queen Madge White, a 79-year-old white woman. Four potential African-American jurors were excluded from consideration by prosecutors, who happen to have recorded their anti-black bias in notes that came to light decades after Foster's conviction was handed down. The bigotry-in-action that these papers reveal should not, at this point in U.S. history, come as a surprise to anyone. The endemic, systemic racism that has always informed every aspect of the American criminal justice system has been documented by activists, human rights organizations, and the media in numbing detail (if to little effect). Consider for instance the fact that though African Americans comprise only some 12 percent of the general population, they make up about 42 percent of death row.

5-27-16 After a life in solitary
After a life in solitary
Albert Woodfox spent 43 years in a 6-by-9-foot concrete box, said Ed Pilkington in The Guardian (U.K.). He is one of the “Angola Three”—former Black Panther activists who were put into solitary confinement in 1972, after being convicted of fatally stabbing a prison guard at Louisiana’s notorious Angola prison. Woodfox, now 69, always insisted he was framed, and this February his conviction was overturned. Now free, Woodfox is adapting to his new life outside his cell. “Everything is new, no matter how small or large,” he says. He had a day out at a beach in Texas recently. “It was so strange, walking on the beach and all these people and kids running around. I’m not accustomed to people moving around me, and it makes me nervous. Being in a cell on my own, I only had to protect myself from attack in front of the cell, as I knew there was no one behind me. Now I’m in society, and I have to remind myself that the chances of being attacked are very small.” There are even, he admits, moments when he feels almost homesick for prison. “Human beings are territorial—they feel more comfortable in areas they are secure. In society it’s difficult, it’s looser. So there are moments when, yeah, I wish I was back in the security of a cell.” He pauses. “I mean, it does that to you.”

5-27-16 Anger after Toronto police raid dozens of marijuana shops
Anger after Toronto police raid dozens of marijuana shops
Canadian marijuana users have decried recent raids on dozens of Toronto shops that sell the drug, calling the operation a waste of police resources. Medical marijuana is legal in Canada, but only licensed providers can sell it to people who have a doctor's approval. Police raided 43 Toronto shops on Thursday and made 90 arrests. Raids come just as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's Liberal Government is poised to make marijuana legal to recreational users. Protesters gathered outside police headquarters on Friday, calling the medical marijuana dispensaries essential. Police said the shops raided were not authorised to sell marijuana.

5-27-16 How to justify the war crime in Hiroshima
How to justify the war crime in Hiroshima
On Friday, President Obama became the first sitting president of the United States to travel to Hiroshima. This is a highly symbolic event, and one that reignites the conversation around the moral status of the United States' bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, which killed more than 200,000 people. Let's not beat around the bush: Those bombings were war crimes. Yes, civilian deaths are inevitable in warfare, but there is a crucial difference between killing civilians unintentionally and doing so deliberately. And yet President Harry Truman was still probably right to drop the bombs.

5-26-16 Eleven US states oppose transgender schools edict
Eleven US states oppose transgender schools edict
Eleven US states have filed a lawsuit challenging the Obama administration's recent efforts to expand the rights of transgender students. The White House issued a directive this month, mandating that all students be allowed to use the toilet that matches their gender identity. The states called the order "a massive social experiment". Several US states have recently enacted laws that limit the rights of transgender people. The Obama administration has threatened to withhold federal education aid to states that do not comply with the directive.

5-24-16 The gene's still selfish: Dawkins' famous idea turns 40
The gene's still selfish: Dawkins' famous idea turns 40
As The Selfish Gene notches up 40 years in print, BBC News asked Richard Dawkins whether his most famous book is relevant today (answer: yes), whether he has any regrets about public spats over religion (no), and whether he is quitting Twitter (sort of). "I'd so much rather talk about this than about politics." This, from a thinker most famous as a fearless firebrand, sounds rather incongruous. But as Prof Dawkins hunches over his laptop to dig up examples of biomorphs - the computer-generated "creatures" he conceived in the 1980s to illustrate artificial selection - it is transparently, genuinely felt. Later, we touch on the fact that he sees public debate as a scientist's responsibility. Right now, he wants to talk about molluscs.

5-24-16 Gay refugees say they have been 'bullied' in Dutch camps
Gay refugees say they have been 'bullied' in Dutch camps
Gay refugees from the Middle East have faced abuse and harassment in Dutch camps, much of it at the hands of fellow refugees. But now LGBT charities have begun to step in to provide support and even accommodation.

5-23-16 India's transgender sari models winning hearts
India's transgender sari models winning hearts
In a highly unusual move, a designer in the southern Indian state of Kerala has launched her new collection of saris, featuring two transgender models, writes the BBC's Geeta Pandey in Delhi. Sharmila Nair's collection is called Mazhavil - or, the rainbow - and it's "dedicated to transgender people because globally they are represented by rainbow flags". In India, where transgender people are looked down upon by the larger society and are considered as the in-between people who are to be ridiculed and shunned, Ms Nair's choice of models is attracting a lot of attention.

5-21-16 US Hawaii: Lesbian pair held after kissing win damages
US Hawaii: Lesbian pair held after kissing win damages
A lesbian couple who say a policeman in Honolulu, Hawaii, harassed and wrongfully arrested them after seeing them kiss have been awarded damages. The $80,000 (£55,150) settlement was announced in a local court, but still needs city council approval. Courtney Wilson and Taylor Guerrero say they were told to "take it somewhere else" when the policeman saw them kissing in a food store. They later spent three days in jail after scuffling with the officer.

5-20-16 Disentangling Attitudes Toward Transgender Bathroom Use
Disentangling Attitudes Toward Transgender Bathroom Use
Fast forward to a week or so later, when we at Gallup asked about the issue in a somewhat different format. Rather than asking an "up or down" question about a specific law, we gave the respondents two options, as follows: "In terms of policies governing public restrooms, do you think these policies should -- [ROTATED: require transgender individuals to use the restroom that corresponds with their birth gender (or should these policies) allow transgender individuals to use the restroom that corresponds with their gender identity]?" The results from this question wording were the opposite of the CNN responses. We found 50% opted for the first option that requires transgender individuals to use a restroom corresponding with their birth gender, while 40% chose the latter option, allowing them to use a bathroom corresponding with their gender identity. (Webmaster's comment: Gallop has the polling professionals and is the most trustworthy. News media strive to create controversy or slant news towards their political preferences.)

5-20-16 Startling number of mental health patients behind bars in US
Startling number of mental health patients behind bars in US
The UK's prison problems, with many inmates suffering from mental illness, are mirrored around the world. In America there are thought to be three times more psychiatric patients in prison than in hospital. BBC correspondent Aleem Maqbool was given special permission to film inside Cook County Jail, Illinois, and to speak to the prisoners at this Chicago prison.

5-20-16 Dangers of driving stoned
Dangers of driving stoned
Fatal car accidents involving marijuana more than doubled in Washington after the state legalized the sale of the drug in 2012, new research shows. A study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that marijuana was involved in 17 percent of Washington’s fatal accidents in 2014—up from 8 percent the year before, reports. “Washington serves as an eye-opening case study for what other states may experience with road safety after legalizing the drug,” says the nonprofit’s president, Peter Kissinger. Four states and the District of Columbia have legalized the recreational use of marijuana, and 20 more states are considering similar legislation. Legal blood alcohol limits were easily established, but determining when people are “too high” to drive is much more complicated, because THC, the main chemical component in marijuana, affects everyone differently. In any event, the study authors say, “just because a drug is legal does not mean it is safe to use while operating a motor vehicle.”

5-20-16 Sykes-Picot: The map that made the Mideast
Sykes-Picot: The map that made the Mideast
“Exactly a century ago, an Englishman and a Frenchman unrolled a map of the Middle East and drew an improbably straight line across the desert,” said David Blair in The Daily Telegraph (U.K.). The two diplomats, Sir Mark Sykes and François Georges-Picot, were deciding how to split up the Ottoman Empire during World War I into British and French spheres of influence. With all the breezy arrogance of a colonial official, Sykes declared, “I should like to draw a line from the E in Acre to the last K in Kirkuk.” Ignoring the region’s “explosive ethnic and religious divides,” he did just that, carving out the entirely artificial nations of Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon. A century later, “the curse of Sykes-Picot still haunts the Middle East,” said Robin Wright in The New Yorker. Iraq and Syria are fractured by bitter conflicts among Sunnis, Shiites, and other sects. The Kurds, split into four countries, are still fighting for autonomy. “Even the Islamic State seeks to undo the old borders,” proudly claiming that it’s hammering “the last nail in the coffin of the Sykes-Picot conspiracy.”

5-19-16 Americans' Support for Gay Marriage Remains High, at 61%
Americans' Support for Gay Marriage Remains High, at 61%
Sixty-one percent of Americans say that marriages between same-sex couples should be recognized by the law as valid, consistent with the 58% and 60% recorded in 2015. Last year's Supreme Court decision made same-sex marriage legal nationwide -- but the issue remains contentious at state and local levels, among religious groups and within the Republican Party. Public support for same-sex marriage has more than doubled over the past two decades. When Gallup first polled on the issue in 1996, about a quarter of Americans (27%) said such marriages should be recognized by law. Majority support was recorded for the first time in 2011, and the percentage has since grown.

  • Support is up among each political party and age group
  • About one in four say candidates must share their views on issue
  • Gay marriage issue loses importance among GOP voters

Do you think marriages between same-sex couples should or should not be recognized by the law as valid, with the same rights as traditional marriages?

(Webmaster's comment: Hey all you intolerant religious bigots, You Lose Again! Go back and live in the dark ages were your hatred for other human beings belongs and you can still burn people at the stake! That's what you really want to do isn't it!)

5-18-16 LGBT groups barred from attending UN aids conference
LGBT groups barred from attending UN aids conference
A group of 51 Muslim countries has blocked LGBT rights organisations from attending a United Nations conference on Aids next month. Egypt, representing the Organization for Islamic Co-operation, wrote to the General Assembly president to object to the participation of 11 groups. US, EU, and Canadian officials have written to the president of the 193-member organisation in protest. Egypt's representatives did not give a reason for requesting the ban. US Ambassador Samantha Power said the groups appeared to have been chosen for their involvement in gay or transgender causes.

5-18-16 Five science-backed tips for spotting a lie
Five science-backed tips for spotting a lie
First, a warning: Detecting lies is hard. Don't think there's a magic bullet. There isn't. If there was, everyone would use it. And most of what you think you know is wrong. "There's no Pinocchio's nose of lying. There's no telltale sign no matter what we might think, nothing that always signals a lie no matter what. There's so much folk wisdom about how you spot a liar. They avert their gaze. They sweat. They blush, all this stuff. In truth, when you're talking with good liars, it just doesn't happen." So what can we do to detect lies and avoid being scammed? Here's how to tell if someone is lying and how to resist deception:

  • Use cognitive load: You want to reduce how much thinking you need to do and increase the amount they need to.
  • Be motivated: You can boost your ability to detect deception by actively trying.
  • Watch your emotions: When you're feeling you're not thinking. Stay objective.
  • Stories are dangerous: They are the most powerful way to influence someone.
  • Know thyself: People with a strong sense of self were able to resist the most intense manipulation by cults.

5-17-16 Justin Trudeau to push for transgender rights in Canada
Justin Trudeau to push for transgender rights in Canada
Mr Trudeau wants to expand legal protection for transgender people. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau plans to introduce legislation that would give broad legal protection to transgender people across Canada. The legislation would expand the Canadian Human Rights Act to cover transgender people. The proposal would also amend the Criminal Code hate speech provisions to include transgender. (Webmaster's comment: Some countries get human rights RIGHT and the United States doesn't. Our states are still trying to find ways to make transgenders miserable and even endanger transgenders by encouraging prejudice.)

5-17-16 Four more ways the CIA has meddled in Africa
Four more ways the CIA has meddled in Africa
The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has a long history of involvement in African affairs, so Sunday's reports that the 1962 arrest of Nelson Mandela came following a CIA tip-off don't come as a huge surprise. Most incidents came during the Cold War, when the US and the Soviet Union battled for influence across the continent. CIA covert operations are by their very nature hard to prove definitively. But research into the agency's work, as well as revelations by former CIA employees, has thrown up several cases where the agency tried to influence events. 1961 - Patrice Lumumba's assassination in Congo, 1965 - Overthrow of Kwame Nkrumah in Ghana, 1970s - Opposition to the MPLA in Angola, 1982 - Supporting Hissene Habre in Chad. (Webmaster's comment: The United States and it's CIA operations always support the right-wing dictators and bad guys. That's because right-wing dictatores are always easier to bribe to let United States corporations drive people off their land and steal the resources they lived on, and then exploit the countries people as virtual slave laborers. Read Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II and Rogue State: A Guide to the World's Only Superpower.)

5-16-16 Doctors of America, you are free to counsel patients about guns
Doctors of America, you are free to counsel patients about guns
Let's bury the gun lobby myth that US medical professionals aren't allowed to discuss firearms risks with those they treat, say Marian Betz and Megan Ranney. In 2014, firearms claimed 33,599 lives in the US What can be done to improve this terrible record? This is a politically charged and divisive question in a nation where approximately one-third of adults report owning at least one firearm, and resistance to change is considerable. Critics of gun control object to government involvement in the ownership, storage or use of firearms as they see it as infringing the Second Amendment to the US constitution, which has been interpreted as enshrining an individual’s right to own a gun. And 20 years ago, federal funding for research into gun violence was effectively banned. Despite an executive order in 2013 by President Obama to overturn this, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is still unable to fund firearm injury studies. (Webmaster's comment: Instead of advocating "limited" Female Genital Mutilation doctors should advocate limiting the risk of gun ownership.)

5-16-16 Donald Trump urges Muslims 'to turn people in'
Donald Trump urges Muslims 'to turn people in'
The presumptive Republican candidate in the US presidential election, Donald Trump, has called on Muslims to work with the police and "turn people in". (Webmaster's comment: 40 times as many Christians are involved in mass shootings (terrorist attacks) as are Muslims. He should have urged Christians to turn militant Christian people in!)

5-16-16 The grotesque criminalization of poverty in America
The grotesque criminalization of poverty in America
Money bail is a vast moral abomination. If you are arrested for a serious crime, you're supposed to be taken to jail and booked. Then there's some sort of hearing, and if the judge doesn't think you will skip town or commit more crimes, you are either released on your own recognizance, or you post bail, and you are free until a pre-trial hearing. After that, you either go to trial, or plead guilty and accept punishment. But for a great many people, this is not how it works. As a new report from the Prison Policy Initiative demonstrates, over one-third of people who go through the booking process end up staying in jail simply because they can't raise enough cash to post bail. For millions of Americans in 2016, poverty is effectively a crime.

5-15-16 Bangladesh: Man held over murders of LGBT activists
Bangladesh: Man held over murders of LGBT activists
Police in Bangladesh have arrested a man over the killing last month of a gay rights activist and his friend. The suspect was identified as Shariful Islam Shihab, a former member of the banned Islamic group Harkatul Jihad. Xulhaz Mannan, the editor of Bangladesh's first magazine for LGBT people, and fellow activist Mahbub Rabbi Tonoy were killed last month. Bangladesh has seen a surge in violent attacks against gay activists and other minority groups in recent months.

5-13-16 Restraining order against God
Restraining order against God
An Israeli man requested a restraining order against God, saying that he’s fed up with the Almighty interfering in his life. David Shoshan told a court in Haifa that God “started to treat me harshly and not nicely” three years ago, and calls to the police had not put an end to the harassment. Judge Ahsan Canaan denied the request for a restraining order, saying Shoshan needed the kind of help the court could not provide. God did not present himself at the hearing.

5-13-16 Transgender toilet use: US schools 'must respect gender identity'
Transgender toilet use: US schools 'must respect gender identity'
The White House says gender identity is a civil rights issue. The Obama administration has told schools to allow transgender pupils to use the toilets that match their chosen gender identity. Attorney General Loretta Lynch said it would protect transgender pupils from discrimination and peer harassment. She said schools may face lawsuits or lose federal aid if they do not comply. "There is no room in our schools for discrimination of any kind, including discrimination against transgender students on the basis of their sex," Ms Lynch said.

5-13-16 Obama battles North Carolina over ‘bathroom law’
Obama battles North Carolina over ‘bathroom law’
The clash over transgender bathroom use escalated into a major civil rights battle this week, as North Carolina and the Obama administration filed dueling federal lawsuits over a state law requiring transgender people to use public bathrooms corresponding with their sex at birth. Last week, the Justice Department gave Republican Gov. Pat McCrory until May 9 to stop enforcing the law, known as HB2, saying it was discriminatory. McCrory responded by filing suit, calling the legislation “commonsense privacy policy” and accusing the government of overreach. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch then countersued, likening HB2 to Jim Crow laws and assuring transgender Americans, “We will do everything we can to protect you.” North Carolina stands to lose more than $4 billion in federal education aid over the law.

5-13-16 Deadly medical mistakes
Deadly medical mistakes
Medical errors in hospitals and other health-care facilities are now the third-leading cause of death in the United States, claiming more lives each year than respiratory disease, accidents, stroke, and Alzheimer’s disease. After analyzing four large studies investigating death rates, researchers at Johns Hopkins University calculated that mistakes ranging from undetected complications to medication mix-ups are responsible for more than 250,000 deaths a year. “It boils down to people dying from the care that they receive rather than the disease for which they are seeking care,” study leader Martin Makary tells The Washington Post. The researchers argue that federal mandates should be revised to require doctors to disclose medical errors that resulted in a preventable death. “When a plane crashes, we don’t say this is confidential proprietary information,” Makary says. “We consider this part of public safety. Hospitals should be held to the same standards.”

5-13-16 A Muslim mayor for London
A Muslim mayor for London
London has become “the first great Western city to choose a Muslim as its mayor,” said the Mail on Sunday in an editorial. Sadiq Khan of the opposition Labor Party defeated Conservative rival Zac Goldsmith resoundingly last week, 57 percent to 43 percent, to win the largest personal mandate of any politician in U.K. history. The son of a Pakistani bus driver, Khan grew up in public housing and rose to become a human rights lawyer and member of Parliament. That he could be chosen to lead London is “a great declaration of open-mindedness by a great city” and “the best answer we could possibly give to the intolerant voices of extreme Islam.” Khan has pledged to be a mayor for all Londoners—and he showed that with his first act after being sworn in, when he attended a Holocaust memorial ceremony and met with Britain’s chief rabbi, Ephraim Mirvis.

5-13-16 Trump’s rise frightens the world
Trump’s rise frightens the world
OK, it’s not funny anymore, said the Toronto Star (Canada) in an editorial. Donald Trump has now all but clinched the Republican Party’s presidential nomination, and that means a misogynistic, race-baiting opportunist has a shot at occupying the White House. “Not even a crack team of the world’s best apparatchiks could transform the man guilty of all this into someone worthy of the office for which he is now vying.” His foreign policy makes absolutely no sense, said Damir Fras in the Frankfurter Rundschau (Germany). Trump says he will bar all foreign Muslims from entering the country, while simultaneously persuading America’s Muslim allies to take the lead against radical Islam. He will pick a trade fight with China, yet somehow also make China exert influence over North Korea. He thinks building a wall at America’s southern border will keep out immigrants, and that Mexico will pay for the barrier. Such policies “are just wishful thinking.” We have to believe the American people will not vote him in.

5-12-16 A brief history of the ladies' bathroom
A brief history of the ladies' bathroom
There's a long history of women feeling ill at ease when expected to perform a private act in a public space, and this history is worth considering as the national debate rages over transgender individuals and bathroom laws. Comfort, privacy, and fear all played a part in creating our sex-segregated bathroom system, and will continue to influence whatever system we create going forward. It took a really long time to convince women to pee in public. Mostly because, before the mid-1800s, the only public toilets were called "the street" and they were used almost exclusively by men. When ladies did go out, they didn't dawdle. There was nothing to linger for, really, outside of church or some other community meeting. Shopping wasn't fun. You handed the dry goods man your list of needed muslins and salt, he packed it up for you, and you headed home. If you had to go potty, you either held it, or found a nice grove of bushes or trees to relieve yourself, miles from anywhere public. America was a nation of "Restrooms for customers ONLY!" And by restrooms, they meant holes dug in the ground to poop in. Saloons usually had privies out back, but ladies weren't allowed in saloons. There were a handful of other "public" latrines, but they were usually built and maintained by local businesses solely to keep people from befouling their buildings.

5-11-16 A history of love, art, power and religion in 10 graves
A history of love, art, power and religion in 10 graves
We are the only animal to bury its dead, and we have been doing it for a very long time. These moving, fascinating finds reveal how the human mind has evolved. NO OTHER animal buries its dead. It is a peculiarly human thing to do, and we’ve been doing it for a long time. Last year, it emerged that our ancestors may have laid their dead to rest as far back as 3 million years ago. This raises intriguing questions about the evolution of the human mind. To understand the idea of death, you need empathy and intuition. To feel your own mortality and to create rituals that recognise the mortality of others, you must be capable of symbolic thinking – which also underpins language, art and religion. What’s more, burials reflect the cultural concerns and practices of the people who created them. Graves, therefore, hold clues about human curiosity, the dawning of spirituality, ancestor cults, global domination, trade, technological ingenuity and more. In search of these, we’ve unearthed 10 of the most significant gravesites:

5-11-16 Italian MPs back same-sex unions in vote for Renzi
Italian MPs back same-sex unions in vote for Renzi
Italy's parliament has backed same-sex civil unions in a vote of confidence for centre-left Prime Minister Matteo Renzi. Until Wednesday's vote Italy had been the last major Western democracy not to legally recognise gay partnerships. The issue has been highly controversial in Italy, amid staunch opposition from Catholic conservatives. MPs in the lower house voted 369-193 for the government, ensuring that the civil unions bill will become law. (Webmaster's comment: All over the world gay rights have continued to win support. Sioux Falls Atheists are proud to have supported the local gay community with both financial support and by raising awareness of the LGBT movement with billboard advertising. Their rights should be the same as for every else because they are human beings! Sioux Falls Atheists thinks no further argument is necessary!)

5-11-16 Germany anti-gay law: Plan to rehabilitate convicted men
Germany anti-gay law: Plan to rehabilitate convicted men
Germany is set to annul the convictions of gay men under a law criminalising homosexuality that was applied zealously in post-war Germany. Justice Minister Heiko Maas is to overturn the convictions and create a "right to compensation". About 50,000 men were convicted between 1946 and 1969, under a 19th-Century law that the Nazis had sharpened. Homosexuality was decriminalised in 1969, but the legislation was not taken off the books entirely until 1994.

5-11-16 When does conducting research on human embryos become unethical?
When does conducting research on human embryos become unethical?
Should the public be able to weigh in? At what point should a scientist stop doing experiments on a human embryo in a petri dish? For decades, the answer has been clear: 14 days after fertilization. The cutoff is protected by law in 12 countries, including Canada and the United Kingdom, and by scientific guideline in five others, including the United States. But the discussion has been a moot point because no lab had ever succeeded at growing human embryos beyond nine days. Recently, though, two different research teams reported a scientific first: watching embryos develop in the lab all the way to the two-week mark. Both groups — one from the Rockefeller University in New York, the other from the University of Cambridge in England — saw how these balls of cells become riddled with holes and tunnels so that they can attach themselves to the nourishing vasculature of the mother's uterus. They saw populations of cells that have never before been identified, which appear after the embryo implants itself but disappear long before birth. And they tracked the minute chemical changes from one day to the next. But alongside the new science comes a fierce ethical debate about whether the advance warrants reconsidering the "14-day rule."

5-11-16 Medical errors are killing hundreds of thousands each year
Medical errors are killing hundreds of thousands each year
Sometime in the last few years, a young woman who had undergone a successful transplant operation was readmitted to the hospital for some follow-up tests, including a procedure to draw fluid from the sac surrounding her heart. The woman was discharged from the hospital but returned the following day complaining of severe abdominal pain. She died from a combination of intra-abdominal bleeding and cardiac arrest. An autopsy revealed that the needle that had been inserted into the heart sac had grazed her liver and ruptured an artery, resulting in death. The death certificate listed the cause of death as cardiovascular, but in fact it was due to physician's error. The tragic mishap was cited in a new study by two Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine researchers examining the medical errors that have been grossly underreported for years. They estimate that medical errors are responsible for 251,454 deaths annually.

5-11-16 Inside decaying US prison, former inmates are guides
Inside decaying US prison, former inmates are guides
At a 19th Century prison that pioneered the use of solitary confinement in the US, former inmates lead one-of-a-kind tours about the history of incarceration and their own experience within it. (Webmaster's comment: And we are still following these barbaric practices.)

5-9-16 Obama administration sues North Carolina over anti-LGBT law
Obama administration sues North Carolina over anti-LGBT law
The US Justice Department has filed a lawsuit against North Carolina over its controversial anti-LGBT law, calling it "state-sponsored discrimination". The law requires people to use public toilets that correspond to the sex listed on their birth certificate. It also invalidated several local anti-discrimination measures that protected gay and transgender people. North Carolina announced on Monday it would sue the Justice Department over its attempt to nullify the law. "What this law does is inflict further indignity on a population that has suffered far more than its fair share," Attorney General Loretta Lynch said of transgender people. "We see you, we stand with you, and we will do everything we can to protect you." The law puts North Carolina in direct conflict with federal laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex and gender identity, said Ms Lynch.

5-7-16 How neuroscientists are learning to read our minds
How neuroscientists are learning to read our minds
Neuroscientists are not mind-readers, but they're coming close, according to a new study published in the journal Science. With little more than a functional MRI scan, scientists have managed to program a computer model that can predict the specific path that that individual's brain will likely take when performing a given task. This tool could eventually be used to conduct top-level neuroscience with infants and people with disabilities. "We show that we can essentially predict how people will use their brains," coauthor Saad Jbabdi of Oxford University told The Scientist. Arguably the next big project in science is mapping out the human neural connectome — the network between our brain regions that activates when we perform specific tasks, and then leaves its unique pathway etched in our brains long after. Prior studies have shown that functional MRI brain scans can highlight these pathways, but Jbabdi and colleagues wondered whether the vague outlines of the connectome could provide enough information to help predict how a resting brain would act if faced with a particular task.

5-6-16 N Carolina leaders divided on federal response to LGBT law
N Carolina leaders divided on federal response to LGBT law
North Carolina leaders are divided on whether they will respond to Justice Department concerns over an LGBT law that has sparked an national outcry. The law invalidated several local anti-discrimination measures that protected gay and transgender people. It also requires people to use public toilets that correspond to the sex listed on their birth certificates.

5-5-16 N Carolina law 'violates civil rights' says US
N Carolina law 'violates civil rights' says US
The US justice department has told North Carolina that its law limiting protections for LGBT people violates national civil rights laws and must not be implemented. The law invalidated several local anti-discrimination measures that protected gay and transgender people. It also requires people to use public toilets that correspond to the sex listed on their birth certificates. His office must confirm by Monday that the law will not be implemented, the department said.

5-4-16 Embryo study shows 'life's first steps'
Embryo study shows 'life's first steps'
Scientists say a breakthrough in growing embryos will improve fertility treatments and revolutionise knowledge of the earliest steps to human life. For the first time, embryos have been grown past the point they would normally implant in the womb. The research, in the UK and US, was halted just before the embryos reached the legal limit of 14-days old. But in an ethically-charged move, some scientists have already called for the 14-day limit to be changed. The earliest steps towards human life are largely a mystery, but the research in Nature and Nature Cell Biology, has been able to study embryos for longer than ever before. (Webmaster's comment: Step-by-step we are learning the mysteries of life, but not in the United States. The darkage philosophy of religion holds us back.)

5-4-16 When does life begin? Lab embryo advance reopens a big debate
When does life begin? Lab embryo advance reopens a big debate
DHuman embryos are surviving ever longer in labs. Any review of political limits on culturing them must fit the biological facts, says Jane Maienschein. At a press conference in London, Magdalena Zernicka-Goetz at the University of Cambridge, who led one of the studies, said that much of value might be learned by studying embryos past 14 days. “Longer culture could provide absolutely critical information,” she said. Even if researchers are not yet calling for an extension, the latest work will inevitably raise heated arguments about personhood and the sanctity of life — all of which will distract us from any serious discussion of how embryo research might provide a better understanding of the biological realities of developing life. Only gradually, at about 8 weeks, does the embryo become a fetus with the essential organs at least roughly mapped out. Only much later is the nervous system developed, and only much, much later does the fetus have the capacity to feel pain.

5-3-16 Donald Trump's ethnic cleansing program
Donald Trump's ethnic cleansing program
ter a prolonged spell of missteps and atrocious press coverage, Donald Trump has regained his commanding lead in the Republican presidential primary. A week ago he swept five states in the Northeast by giant margins, and he leads every recent poll of Indiana, whose primary takes place Tuesday. The state is probably the last place for the anti-Trump faction to prevent him from winning the primary outright, and it doesn't even look close. It's worth remembering what a grim development this is. Not only will his combination of open bigotry and utter lack of political or military experience be historically unique in a major party candidate, he's also openly campaigning on moral atrocities — in particular, a plan of what amounts to ethnic cleansing. Now, most people think of mass murder when they hear ethnic cleansing, but that's not necessarily the case. Creating an ethnically homogeneous state can also be accomplished through deportation. This brings me to Trump's plan to put together a "deportation force" to remove the 11.3 million unauthorized immigrants living in the United States, an idea he justifies by reference to a somewhat similar program called "Operation Wetback" carried out in the mid-50s. (Webmaster's comment: The monster is among us. He will lead us to unimaginable moral atrocities with many Americans screaming for worse. What an evil nation we are about to become.)

5-3-16 Equally long lives for rich and poor? This dream is in retreat
Equally long lives for rich and poor? This dream is in retreat
For the first time since the Victorian era, the gap in life expectancy between the top and bottom of society is widening. We must fix this, says Les Mayhew. First the good news: we’re living longer in the UK, and men are slowly catching up with women. Now the bad news: the long-term narrowing of the gap in life expectancy between rich and poor has gone into reverse. A new analysis I co-wrote shows that among males who reach adulthood, the longest-lived can expect to reach an age of 96.2, living 34.2 years longer than those who fare worst. This gap is 1.7 years wider than in 1993, when it was narrowest, making this the first step back since the 1870s. For women, the situation is similar, but not so dire. The longest-lived can expect to reach 98.5 years, 31.5 years older than the shortest-lived. This gap was smallest in 2005, but has grown by 0.4 years. Recent statistics paint a similar picture in the US. The group whose lives are shortest is made up overwhelmingly of people who are poor. So why are they falling further behind for the first time since the Victorian era, after the gap narrowed in the decades to 1940 and then stayed the same for another 50 years?

5-3-16 Target transgender bathrooms: US activists 'test' policy
Target transgender bathrooms: US activists 'test' policy
A conservative group says it has been sending men into women's toilets at Target stores to protest the company's policies toward transgender people. In response to recent laws in US states, the retailer said transgender people are welcome to use the toilet of their choice at its stores. An online petition urging a boycott of Target has over a million signatures. North Carolina and Mississippi have passed laws that require people to use public toilets that correspond to the sex listed on their birth certificate. Many businesses and entertainers have criticised the measures as discriminatory. Musicians have cancelled concerts in the states and several companies have pledged to curtail their business in North Carolina.

52 Atheism & Humanism News Articles
for May 2016

Atheism News & Humanism Articles for April 2016