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

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

6-30-16 Donald Trump, marijuana, and the yearning to make America sober again
Donald Trump, marijuana, and the yearning to make America sober again
This Tuesday, the organizers of a ballot initiative to legalize recreational marijuana in California had their petitions certified, meaning Californians will vote in November on the question. Even though a legalization measure failed at the ballot in 2010, this one is almost sure to succeed (polls have shown support at around 60 percent), adding 39 million Americans to the still-modest number who live in states where pot is legal. The difference is not just the passage of six years, but the fact that this is a presidential year, which means a much different electorate going to the polls — in particular, a lot more young people. California is just the beginning: Nevada, Massachusetts, and Maine will also have initiatives allowing recreational use, and Florida will have a medical marijuana measure on the ballot. Other states where marijuana initiatives are in the process of collecting signatures include Arkansas, Arizona, Michigan, Montana, and North Dakota. In all likelihood some of them will succeed and others won't, but this much we can say: With each passing year, on this issue as on so many others, Blue America and Red America are separating from each other. And in some ways, we can see it as a separation between old America and young America. The divisions by age are perhaps the most striking thing about polling on marijuana use; while all age groups have gotten more supportive of legalization over the decades, what really matters is whether you came of age before the 1960s or after. Today legalization is supported by majorities of all age groups except senior citizens. To take one example, in this Pew Research Center poll from last year, those under 35 and those over 70 were mirror images of each other: 68 percent of the millennials supported legalization while 29 percent opposed it, and among the Silent Generation, 29 percent supported it and 68 percent opposed it.

6-29-16 I want to put your death on ice so that you can live again
I want to put your death on ice so that you can live again
Max More cryogenically preserves people's bodies and heads in the hope that one day they can be brought back to life. It doesn't make him popular. The Alcor Life Extension Foundation has hundreds of clients who have signed up to be frozen. Is the ultimate goal immortality? I don’t like the word immortality – that’s not what we’re offering. If you lived forever, I’m sure it would get awfully boring. What we do is freeze people with the expectation that one day it will be possible to bring them back to life into a world in which we can control the ageing process. Then we can stop it or reverse it and decide what age we want to be biologically. You won’t die of old age, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be immortal – you could be killed, have a fatal accident or choose to die. How can you be so confident that it will ever be possible to bring frozen people back to life? I don’t know if we will be able to bring people back, but there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be able to – it’s just a matter of time. There’s nothing here that violates the laws of physics. It just requires a better understanding of this incredibly complex machine that is our body and brain, and very fine medical tools that can repair cells. We’ve extended average lifespan by figuring out how to fix people, it’s inevitable that for some of our patients it should be possible to undo the damage that caused them to die – old age, a heart attack, cancer. We have to assume it will happen at some point.

  • The Alcor Life Extension Foundation has hundreds of clients who have signed up to be frozen. Is the ultimate goal immortality?
  • How can you be so confident that it will ever be possible to bring frozen people back to life?
  • What happens at Alcor when someone dies?
  • What if you can’t get to someone that quickly?
  • Do people’s families ever object?
  • Is cryonics becoming more widely accepted?
  • Would you say that the people you have frozen are dead?
  • Have you ever managed to bring back to life anything that was cryopreserved?
  • What do you make of religious objections to cryopreservation?
  • Why isn’t cryopreservation more popular then?
  • What are the biggest criticisms you face?
  • What’s a neuro?
  • How long would you want to live for?

6-29-16 Why I signed up to have my head cryogenically frozen
Why I signed up to have my head cryogenically frozen
Taking out insurance to freeze your head after you die is the responsible thing to do, says D. J. MacLennan. Ever since I learned that people eventually died, I have had this fear of death churning away in the background. As a child I was always thinking “isn’t there something we can do about this?”I considered cryopreservation for many years and then signed up as a neuro in 2007, which means I’ll only have my head preserved. It made perfect sense to me that the mind arises as an emergent property of the brain and that it might be possible to preserve that.I don’t know whether it will be possible to bring someone back because it’s hard to know what kind of repair work you would have to do to correct any deterioration. So I don’t think of how it might work, but of what kind of values might be around at the time.

6-29-16 Some people choose to be frozen at death. Here’s how it happens
Some people choose to be frozen at death. Here’s how it happens
How do you freeze a body so that one day it could come back to life? Here's how the experts intervene within seconds to stop nature taking its course. Cormac Seachoy, a graduate from Bristol, UK, was just 27 when his body succumbed to metastatic cancer of the colon. He was pronounced dead on 16 December last year. Not long after, he became Alcor’s 142nd cryopreserved member. Seachoy, who had decided he wanted to be frozen after death, had planned to relocate to Scottsville, Arizona, to be close to Alcor’s main facility, but his condition went downhill too fast. “Ideally, we are there at the bedside so that we can take over within 60 seconds of the patient being pronounced dead,” says Aaron Drake, head of Alcor’s medical response team. Instead, Drake made the journey to the UK but was still in the air when Seachoy passed away. An organisation called Cryonics UK stepped in, cooling the body and administering the first lot of drugs until Drake and his team arrived.” As soon as death is pronounced, we want to mitigate as much from happening in the cells as possible,” says Drake. To do that, his team restores blood circulation using a pump to mechanically do chest compressions and intubates the patient to restore oxygen to the lungs. “We can do bloods at this point to show they are every bit as normal as a living patient, biologically speaking,” he says.

6-29-16 Ark of the immortals: The future-proof plan to freeze out death
Ark of the immortals: The future-proof plan to freeze out death
In Comfort, Texas, a disaster-proof complex will house 50,000 frozen people with plans to bring them back from the dead – and will help others to stay alive. Cryonics, the cooling of humans in the hope of reanimating them later, has a reputation as a vanity project for those who have more money than sense, but this “centre for immortality” is designed to be about much more than that. As well as bodies, it will store cells, tissues and organs, in a bid to drive forward the capabilities of cryogenics, the study of extremely low temperatures that has, in the last few years, made remarkable inroads in areas of science that affect us all; fertility therapy, organ transplantation and emergency medicine. What’s more, the cutting-edge facilities being built here should break through the limitations of current cryopreservation, making it more likely that tissues – and whole bodies – can be successfully defrosted in the future.

6-29-16 Most Americans Still Believe in God
Most Americans Still Believe in God
About nine in 10 Americans say they believe in God, and one in 10 say they do not (and that probably means they are Atheists). However, when presented with more than a "yes or no" option, about eight in 10 say they believe and one in 10 say they aren't sure. Belief in God, regardless of how the question is phrased to Americans, is down from levels in past decades. (Webmaster's comment: The poll shows that there are between 28 and 35 million Atheists in the United States. That's a lot of people! We are not alone!)

  • 89% of Americans say they believe in God
  • In a separate poll, 79% say "believe in God" and 10% "not sure"
  • All measures of belief in God show declines from previous decades

6-29-16 WW2 Jewish escape tunnel uncovered in Lithuania's Ponar forest
WW2 Jewish escape tunnel uncovered in Lithuania's Ponar forest
A tunnel dug out with spoons by Jewish prisoners escaping Nazi captors in World War Two has been uncovered in Lithuania's Ponar forest. The prisoners were from the so-called Burning Brigade, who were forced to burn corpses to cover up Nazi atrocities as the Soviets advanced. Knowing they too would be killed, they dug a tunnel in a pit where they were kept. Eleven escapees survived the war. A research team used a ground-scanning system to map out the tunnel.

6-28-16 The dark pessimism of American Christians
The dark pessimism of American Christians
In her new book, It's Dangerous to Believe: Religious Freedom and Its Enemies, Mary Eberstadt finds a dark pessimism settling over many American Christians when they contemplate the future. They perceive a foreboding shift in public attitude. Once there seemed to be a broad and liberal respect for the free exercise of religion, even in public life. But now, the very cultural forces promoting tolerance and diversity treat Christians and their institutions with broad suspicion, and demand absolute conformity with an egalitarian ethos that has only recently even announced its own existence. Believers see the recent battles over religious liberty in the courts and in public opinion as a desire to purge orthodox Christian views, particularly about sex and the two sexes, from the public-facing institutions that they have built: their schools, hospitals, and adoption agencies. Instead of their First Amendment right to free exercise of religion, Christians are being offered, with a great deal of bitterness, mere "freedom of worship," narrowly defined to thinking your own thoughts in your head and participating in ceremonies behind closed doors. (Webmaster's comment: When you practice a dark age philosophy full of hatred for those that think differently don't expect a reasoning people to welcome your presence!)

6-25-16 US military 'to lift transgender ban'
US military 'to lift transgender ban'
US officials say the Pentagon will lift its ban on openly transgender service personnel next month. Each branch of the US military will have to implement new policies. Defence Secretary Ash Carter has called the regulation outdated and harmful to the military. The disclosure has been welcomed by campaigners for transgender rights. It comes after the US Army Secretary, Eric Fanning, formally took office. He is the first openly gay person to become the top civilian official in any branch of the American military. The US military ended its ban on openly gay and lesbian service personnel in 2011.

6-24-16 Stonewall to become US gay rights monument - Obama
Stonewall to become US gay rights monument - Obama
The Stonewall gay bar in New York, where a 1969 police raid led to riots and the birth of the gay rights movement, has been designated as a US national monument. US President Barack Obama named the Stonewall bar as the first national monument to gay rights. Gay marriage was legalised nationwide last year after bitter legal battles.

6-24-16 Muslim Americans: Are they assimilating?
Muslim Americans: Are they assimilating?
Does the U.S. have an “assimilation problem” with Muslims? asked Noah Rothman in Commentary? After the massacre in Orlando, Donald Trump claimed that Muslim Americans, including those who were born in the U.S., have failed to integrate into American society. But the presumptive Republican nominee is sorely mistaken. Recent Pew Research Center studies have concluded that—unlike in Western Europe, where Muslim immigrants “sequester themselves” in gritty ghettos—America’s 3.3 million Muslims are well integrated into our society. Most describe themselves as middle-class and live in “well-off” communities, and 70 percent say they believe in the “American dream” of getting ahead through hard work. They’re as likely as other Americans to graduate college and to have a household income of $100,000 or more. And they’re “roughly as religious as U.S. Christians.”

6-24-16 Modern-day slavery
Modern-day slavery
Millions of people are still held in slavery around the world. Why does India have the most? How many are enslaved? Across the globe, nearly 46 million people are living in some kind of bondage. The most prevalent form of slavery is debt bondage, in which laborers are tied to an ever-growing debt, working long hours for no take-home pay. Sex slavery is also rife, with millions of women and girls sold into forced prostitution. In the shrimping industry, workers are kidnapped and forced to work on boats or in processing plants, unable to escape. India has by far the greatest number of enslaved people, according to the 2016 Global Slavery Index, with some 18 million Indians trapped in debt bondage or forced labor. The other countries with the most slave labor are China, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Uzbekistan. Americans unknowingly consume many products made by slaves, including seafood from Thailand, clothing from South Asian sweatshops, and smartphones fashioned from minerals from Congolese mines. Siddharth Kara, director of the program on human trafficking at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, said the products made by slaves and bonded laborers “touch almost every aspect of the global economy, including frozen fish, tea, coffee, rice, wheat, diamonds, hand-woven carpets, salt, cigarettes, and sporting goods.”

6-24-16 What mass killers have in common
What mass killers have in common
Orlando shooter Omar Mateen controlled and abused his first wife, frequently used racial and homophobic slurs, and for years threatened to kill people he didn’t like. When he finally lived out his murderous fantasies, said Amanda Marcotte, Mateen said he was acting in behalf of ISIS, but the root cause of his violence was “toxic masculinity.” Toxic masculinity is a distorted, specific form of “manhood geared toward dominance and control,” which views women and gays as inferior, “valorizes violence,” and glamorizes guns. It’s “the main reason why we have so many damn shootings in the U.S.” While “toxic masculinity aspires to toughness,” it’s rooted in a fear of being soft, weak, emasculated. Almost all mass killers share this fear, whether they embrace the grievances of ISIS or right-wing hate groups or simply seek vengeance against co-workers or women who scorned them. Sadly, we can’t stop these frequent rampages because the far right does not want its ability to engage in gun violence infringed by effeminate liberals. That leaves only one possible response to mass shootings: more toxic masculinity, with heavily armed tough guys exchanging deadly fire in bars, elementary schools, malls, and churches. Is that the society we want?

6-23-16 Stop vets offering homeopathy – placebo doesn’t work for pets
Stop vets offering homeopathy – placebo doesn’t work for pets
Homeopathy has no effect beyond placebo and is pointless in animal medicine, so let's end its use by those vets who still offer it, says Danny Chambers. People trust veterinary surgeons because their medical knowledge is the result of years of study and training at formally accredited institutions, based on sound research. You certainly wouldn’t expect to be recommended treatments based on a vet’s personal belief in therapies that have no grounding in science. And yet it happens. I’m talking about homeopathy, which has no effect beyond placebo. This is plain weird when you think about it. Animals do not experience a placebo effect because they are unaware they are being treated. Any perceived medical benefit is merely due to the care-giver effect – the subjective assessment by the animal’s owner or clinician. Or wishful thinking as it is also known. So, unlike people, animals do not even receive the psychological benefits from homeopathic treatments.

6-23 -16 US court rejects conservative challenge to affirmative action
US court rejects conservative challenge to affirmative action
The US Supreme Court has voted to allow universities to consider race when selecting student applicants. The judges denied the challenge of a white woman, who believed she was rejected by the University of Texas due to her race. The case, Fischer v University of Texas, was decided by a vote of 4-3. Affirmative action, or "positive discrimination", can continue to be used by public universities when considering minority students.

6-23-16 Pakistan's transgender people live in fear
Pakistan's transgender people live in fear
More than 45 transgender people have been killed in the Pakistani province Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in the past two years, according to a local rights group.

6-22-16 IMF warns the US over high poverty
IMF warns the US over high poverty
The US has been warned about its high poverty rate in the International Monetary Fund's annual assessment of the economy. The fund said about one in seven people were living in poverty and that it needed to be tackled urgently. It recommended raising the minimum wage and offering paid maternity leave to women to encourage them to work. The report also cut the country's growth forecast for 2016 to 2.2% from a previous prediction of 2.4%. Slower global growth and weaker consumer spending were blamed. US economic growth slowed to an annual pace of 0.5% during the first three months of the year, down sharply from 1.4% in the last three months of 2015.

6-23-16 Who's funding the US cannabis industry?
Who's funding the US cannabis industry?
Webb Garrison wants to start his own cannabis business. He doesn't have any industry experience and he's only just building up his knowledge of the complicated regulations that govern the sector. Cannabis has been legalised for either medical or recreational purposes in 25 states, but remains illegal on the national level. It can cost more than $1m to start a cannabis business in the US, according to the Marijuana Business Association. Licensing fees, equipment costs and rent are often the biggest charges and costs vary widely across states because of the different regulations.

6-22-16 Same-Sex Marriages Up One Year After Supreme Court Verdict
Same-Sex Marriages Up One Year After Supreme Court Verdict
The proportion of same-sex cohabiting couples who are married has increased from 38% to 49% in the year since the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage nationwide.

  • Nearly half of cohabiting same-sex couples now married
  • Up from 38% before same-sex marriage legalized in all states
  • 9.6% of LGBT Americans married to same-sex spouse, up from 7.9%

6-21-16 The twisted logic of evangelical colleges welcoming straight atheists and rejecting gay Christians
The twisted logic of evangelical colleges welcoming straight atheists and rejecting gay Christians
At evangelical colleges, is being straight more important than believing in God? You might expect that announcing your lack of faith would carry the worst possible social stigma at Asbury University, a conservative Christian college in Kentucky where chapel attendance is required and most classes begin with prayer. But for Taylor Darden, coming out as gay was worse. "I was much more secretive about my sexuality than my agnosticism," said Darden, who graduated from Asbury in 2010. Although I was teaching at Asbury while Darden was a student, our paths did not cross until after he graduated. Darden told me he eventually came back to the Christian faith, but considered himself agnostic in college. "It's definitely easier to be a non-believer than to be gay at places like Asbury." When Darden says "places like Asbury," he's referring to the many highly ranked Christian colleges across the country that welcome atheists but forbid gay relationships. The result? An odd policy for a religious institution: Students who discard religion are embraced, but students in same-sex relationships — including legally married gay Christians — get rejected. Although an openly gay applicant could enroll at many of these institutions, he or she must remain celibate and refrain from same-sex dating and same-sex marriage while enrolled at the institution. (Webmaster's comment: Let's tell it like it is! Americans are taught to hate by many Religious Leaders, Conservatives and Republicans!)

6-21-16 First step to reducing hate crimes? Enshrine equality in law
First step to reducing hate crimes? Enshrine equality in law
The Orlando shooting in a gay club was the latest and most violent hate crime against the LGBT community in the US. Better laws might reduce their frequency. Omar Mateen’s attack on the Pulse gay club in Orlando, Florida, is the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history. It has been called many things – a terror attack, a consequence of lax gun laws, the actions of a man struggling with his identity. But it is also undeniably a hate crime. Amid the shock and grief people asked why it happened. There are many responses to this question. One is whether high-profile debates over “bathroom bills” in the US played a role. The rationale is that discussing whether transgender people should be free to use bathrooms that align with the gender they identify with has brought people under the spotlight, making them more visible targets. The bathroom bills are the latest in a slew of policy changes across many US states regarding sexual orientation and transgender status. Some have aimed to give lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people a more equal position in society, others, like the 115 anti-equality bills introduced in 2015, have sought to restrict rights. Some people understandably feel that discussion of laws that would inhibit their freedoms legitimise them as targets of violence. “When you are pushing forward a system based on a culture of hate, what do you expect to happen?” James Miller of the LGBT Center of Raleigh, North Carolina, said after the shooting. (Webmaster's comment: Let's tell it like it is! Americans are taught to hate by many Religious Leaders, Conservatives and Republicans!)

6-21-16 When it comes to protecting migrant workers, America has a shameful past
When it comes to protecting migrant workers, America has a shameful past
In theory, migrants from Barbados, Jamaica, and the Bahamas were protected by U.S. agreements with the British Colonial Office, which governed the islands as colonial possessions. Upholding wage and living standards, however, proved almost impossible. Today's guest worker programs for both educated white collar workers and for agricultural workers are still rife with abuses. The lax enforcement of employment contracts is a major problem for guest workers who, in worst case scenarios, are forced to remain with employers and prevented from either returning home or switching jobs. In the 1940s and '50s, guest workers were permitted to remain in the U.S. only if they stuck to the terms of contracts binding them to specific employers. If guest workers left the jobs — whether because of wage disputes, poor treatment, or to seek out higher-paying employment — their names were passed on to immigration officials so they could be tracked down for deportation. (Webmaster's comment: The history of immigrant human rights violations in the United States are endless and continue to this day. Immigrants essentially become slave labor and can be mistreated in any way the "owner" chooses.)

6-21-16 Hundreds of genes seen sparking to life two days after death
Hundreds of genes seen sparking to life two days after death
The discovery that many genes are still working up to 48 hours after death has implications for organ transplants, forensics and our very definition of death. When a doctor declares a person dead, some of their body may still be alive and kicking – at least for a day or two. New evidence in animals suggests that many genes go on working for up to 48 hours after the lights have gone out. This hustle and bustle has been seen in mice and zebrafish, but there are hints that genes are also active for some time in deceased humans. This discovery could have implications for the safety of organ transplants as well as help pathologists pinpoint a time of death more precisely, perhaps to within minutes of the event.

6-20-16 Corporate America has a secret slave labor force
Corporate America has a secret slave labor force
What if I told you there was an army of workers in this country, probably over 2 million strong, that is forced to work for next to nothing? If they're lucky, these workers get 40 cents an hour. They get no Social Security benefits, no workers' compensation insurance, and certainly no overtime. They often are threatened with punishment if they refuse these terms. You'd probably say that this system sounds akin to slavery. And you wouldn't be wrong. But this is also the reality of America's federal, state, and local prison system. When Congress put inmate work programs in place in place in 1979, the goal was giving people in prison marketable skills to help them reintegrate into society. But as state governments also climbed on board with their own programs, and the private prison industry boomed, inmate work programs have turned into a massive supply of incredibly cheap and involuntary labor for everyone from Walmart to McDonald's to Victoria's Secret to the U.S. military. Even Whole Foods' cheese was produced by prison labor, until public outcry shut it down.

6-20-16 Why gay clubs matter
Why gay clubs matter
When a gunman killed 49 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando, he desecrated a space they'd considered safe. Here's why gay clubs are so important to LGBT people.

6-19-16 'Angels' protect Orlando funeral from anti-gay Westboro protesters
'Angels' protect Orlando funeral from anti-gay Westboro protesters
People in Orlando have dressed as guardian angels to protect the funeral of one of the Orlando shooting victims from homophobic protesters. A small number of Westboro Baptist Church followers, attended Saturday's service for Christopher Leinonen. The anti-gay organisation only has about 40 members but is well known for its hate speeches and funeral protests. The handful of demonstrators was blocked from view by around 200 counter-protesters. (Webmaster's comment: Seems like the Baptists are home for some of the most evil Christians.)

6-18-16 Canada's parliament passes assisted suicide bill
Canada's parliament passes assisted suicide bill
Canada's parliament has passed a contentious bill to allow medically-assisted death for terminally ill people. The law was put forward after the Supreme Court struck down a ban on doctors helping the incurably sick to die. The move makes Canada one of the few countries where doctors can legally help sick people die.

6-17-16 Want to control your dreams? These tips may boost your chances
Want to control your dreams? These tips may boost your chances
Lucid dreamers are able to knowingly shape their dreams, and they share tips for how to do it – sticking to the science will give you the best chance. Ever realised you were dreaming, but still didn’t wake up? Around half of people have experienced a lucid dream – a state so exciting that it has led to a flourishing online community eagerly exchanging tips for how to induce it. But do any of these techniques work? The idea that we can knowingly experience and control dreams has been scientifically verified. One classic experiment in 1981 asked five people who said they were capable of lucid dreaming to signal while sleeping if they were aware that they were dreaming. They were able to do it, using pre-agreed eye movements to show researchers that they were consciously dreaming during the rapid eye movement stage of sleep. Imagine shaping your dreams so that you can fly, or visit a friend who passed away – these are just some of the experiences that lucid dreamers have reported. It’s easy to see why people who have experienced lucid dreams are keen to do so again, and many share tips online in forums. A survey of users of one such forum last year found that there is a slight correlation between lucid dreaming and using the snooze function on alarm clocks – but does it really work?

6-17-16 “The Bible teaches that these people deserve to die”
“The Bible teaches that these people deserve to die”
A Baptist preacher in Sacramento told his congregants that the only tragedy of the Orlando nightclub shooting is that “more of the them didn’t die.” Pastor Roger Jimenez vilified “sodomites” in his sermon and said their deaths “help society.” Jimenez said Christianity condemns homosexuality and that “the Bible teaches that these people deserve to die.” (Webmaster's comment: How evil can religion get? This is how evil!)

6-17-16 The ranting of the Twitter Nazis
The ranting of the Twitter Nazis
After decades of writing about issues concerning Jews and Israel, “my skin is thick like a rhino’s,” said Jeffrey Goldberg. Yet I’m nonetheless astonished by the online explosion of virulent anti-Semitism by white supremacists thrilled by the presidential candidacy of Donald Trump. Now, Trump has attacked Mexicans and Muslims, not Jews, but the common belief of the threatened males of the “alt-right” crowd is that if he’s elected president, he will open concentration camps in the U.S. and initiate a new Holocaust. Every political commentator with a Jewish name who has criticized Trump has been inundated with a torrent of threatening, anti-Semitic tweets and emails. In recent weeks, Trump supporters have sent me photoshopped pictures depicting me with a Nazi-era, yellow Jewish star on my forehead, and in the striped garb of a concentration camp inmate, along with warnings that Jews like me are about to get what they deserve. The Jew hatred of these neo-Nazis is not subtle or sophisticated, so they do not frighten me. “Mainly, I pity them, because their souls are so corroded, and because they are so pathetically frightened by Jews and blacks and Mexicans and gays and change.” (Webmaster's comment: I couldn't have said it better!)

6-17-16 A nation in denial after Orlando massacre
A nation in denial after Orlando massacre
America is reaping the consequences of the violence it has encouraged around the world, said Ali Tatmaj in Siyasat-e Ruz (Iran). The country that has exported terrorism to so many Muslim nations, and supported terrorist groups in so many forms, has just experienced another deadly attack on its own soil, the worst since 9/11. The American man who opened fire in a gay nightclub in Orlando, killing 49 people, had once been on an FBI terrorist watch list. Yet the shooter, Omar Mateen, was still able to purchase weapons legally, because the U.S. is dominated by a “culture of guns” that is entirely “aimed at meeting the interests of the weapons manufacturers.” Americans buy and own more guns than anyone else on earth, and unsurprisingly the U.S. has a higher rate of firearm homicides than any other nation in the Western world. “How can Americans claim to ensure global security when they cannot guarantee their own security?” At the time of the Orlando massacre, the U.S. had already experienced 133 mass shootings in 2016, according to the FBI definition of a mass shooting as a single event in which four or more people are shot. It was the 15th mass shooting in Florida this year, and the fourth in Orlando.

6-17-16 Ellen’s brave stand
Ellen’s brave stand
It may seem hard to believe now, but Ellen DeGeneres agonized about coming out as gay, said Ruby Warrington in the Daily Telegraph (Australia). The comedian made the announcement before 42 million viewers on The Oprah Winfrey Show back in 1997 at the age of 37, after deciding she was fed up with living a lie about her sexuality. Saying the words out loud was “such a scary thing,” DeGeneres says. “I cried every time, even in rehearsal.” Today, that moment is considered a turning point in the campaign for gay rights. But at the time, her sitcom, Ellen, was unceremoniously dumped by ABC. “They didn’t even call to tell me—my assistant read about it in the trades.” Thankfully, things have changed for the better. DeGeneres has had her own highly popular talk show since 2003, and is happily married to actress Portia de Rossi—a woman she calls “my best friend and my soul mate and everything you see on a Hallmark card that makes you gag.” The pair were married in 2008 and have a comfortable life together—one that doesn’t include the prospect of any children. “We talked about it for a minute,” says DeGeneres. “But we just decided we like our conversations not being interrupted and our furniture without sticky grape juice on it.”

6-17-16 Life after the NFL
Life after the NFL
Chris Borland doesn’t regret his decision to quit the NFL, said Mark Maske in The Washington Post. Last year, the former linebacker suddenly announced he was retiring from the sport following a successful rookie season with the San Francisco 49ers, out of concern that playing football could leave him with devastating brain injuries. Borland, 25, looked at the science hard before making his decision. “I spent all of the fall saying, ‘OK, the NFL actuary reports that there are guys who have brain damage—well, that’s a third of guys. Maybe I’ll be in the 70 percent.’ And then it got to a point where it was just hard for me to deny. More information has come out since I walked away that has kind of reaffirmed my decision.” He now winces when he sees boys and teens playing football. “When I see kids’ heads bang together, I think of [how] your brain sits unfastened in a pool of cerebrospinal fluid. And it’s gelatinous and it’s crashing against a hard skull. Every hit matters. If you’re subject to 800 to 1,200 of these every year, it accumulates. It’s like erosion.” Adults should be free to decide whether or not to play football, Borland says, but youth and high school football deeply trouble him. “I don’t think you can make an informed decision at 5 years old, don a helmet, and subject your brain to G-force hits.” (Webmaster's comment: Our genetics did not design us for this. It's a game for violence loving, brain damaged adults.)

6-17-16 Microsoft to help track legalised marijuana sales
Microsoft to help track legalised marijuana sales
Microsoft has teamed up with California-based technology start-up Kind Financial, which helps businesses and government agencies track sales of legalised marijuana "from seed to sale". It is the first-ever partnership of its kind for Microsoft. Kind has been selling its marijuana tracking software to businesses and governments for some three years. The start-up will now be able work on Microsoft's government cloud. Kind's software, which is called Agrisoft Seed to Sale, "closes the loop between marijuana-related businesses, regulatory agencies, and financial institutions,"

6-17-16 Pot harms gums
Pot harms gums
Studies have shown that heavy marijuana use apparently isn’t as hazardous to your health as smoking cigarettes. With one exception, that is: gum problems. Researchers in New Zealand followed 1,037 people from birth to middle age and found that more than half of those who smoked pot for two decades had no significant health issues other than periodontal disease—sore and swollen gums that can lead to tooth loss. Meanwhile, the condition affected fewer than 14 percent of subjects who never used the drug. The study doesn’t prove that smoking pot causes gum disease, but researchers note the association cannot be explained by poor oral hygiene, alcohol abuse, or tobacco. They also stressed that their findings shouldn’t be interpreted as a green light to get high. “We don’t want people to think, ‘Hey, marijuana can’t hurt me,’” study author Madeline Meier of Arizona State University tells, pointing to previous research associating weed with “increased risk of psychotic illness, IQ decline, and downward socioeconomic mobility.”

6-16-16 Orlando shooting: Obama condemns LGBT discrimination
Orlando shooting: Obama condemns LGBT discrimination
Discrimination against LGBT people must be tackled at home and abroad, President Obama has said after meeting relatives of Orlando attack victims.

6-16-16 Cocaine addicts can’t kick other habits either
Cocaine addicts can’t kick other habits either
Hard for users to adjust behavior despite negative consequences, study finds. Cocaine addicts aren’t just hooked on the drug; they’re also more likely to hang on to other unrelated habits, a new study suggests. People hooked on cocaine are more likely to stick to other habits, too. They’re also less sensitive to negative feedback that tends to push nonaddicts away from harmful habitual behaviors, new research published in the June 17 Science suggests. The findings might help explain why cocaine addicts will do nearly anything to keep using the drug, despite awareness of its negative consequences. Instead, treatments that encourage new, healthier habits in place of drug use might click better.

6-16-16 For radical Islam, brutalizing gay people is nothing new
For radical Islam, brutalizing gay people is nothing new
The ISIS-inspired massacre at a gay nightclub in Florida has brought to light a longstanding practice among practitioners of radical Islam not always observed in the West: its violent persecution of the LGBT community. With homosexuality forbidden in nearly every modern Muslim-majority country — and carrying a death sentence in some — Islamist militants have for many years taken cruel punishments exacted against gay people to new extremes. Before Omar Mateen shot more than 100 people in Orlando, the Islamic State routinely made a spectacle of a throwing supposedly gay people from the rooftops of buildings in Syria and Iraq. Shiite militias roamed the streets of Baghdad in search of gay men and boys to brutalize at the height of sectarian bloodshed there. This spring, al-Qaeda sympathizers hacked a pair of LGBT activists to pieces in Bangladesh. This time, the target was in the West, where gay communities enjoy greater — if still not equal — protection under the law.

6-16-16 Kenya's 'gay tests' ruled legal
Kenya's 'gay tests' ruled legal
A Kenyan High Court has dismissed a case challenging the legality of anal tests as proof of homosexuality. Two men, who say Kenyan police forced them to undergo the procedure to prove they had had gay sex, launched the case, calling for the tests to be declared unconstitutional. Judge Mathew Emukule, in the coastal city Mombasa, said there were grounds in Kenyan law for the testing. Homosexual acts are illegal in Kenya, punishable by up to 14 years in prison. (Webmaster's comment: This gay hatred in Africa comes from all the Christian missionaries that invaded Africa. What a horrible legacy they left.)

6-15-16 Twilight Over Burma: Myanmar censors pull film from festival
Twilight Over Burma: Myanmar censors pull film from festival
The organisers of a human rights film festival in Myanmar have blamed the military for preventing them from showing a controversial film. Twilight Over Burma, which depicts the relationship between a Shan prince and an Austrian woman, was pulled from the opening night on Tuesday. The invited audience in Yangon was told censors thought it damaged the army's image and national reconciliation. (Webmaster's comment: The assault on free thinking never stops.)

6-15-16 Germany polygamy: Minister says migrants must abide by the law
Germany polygamy: Minister says migrants must abide by the law
Germany will not recognise polygamy or marriages involving minors, Justice Minister Heiko Maas has said. "No-one who comes here has the right to put his cultural values or religious beliefs above our law," he told Bild. In some Islamic countries, men are allowed to take up to four wives, but in Germany polygamy is banned by law. "Everybody must abide by the law, no matter whether he has grown up here or has only just arrived," he told the tabloid. This also applies to forced and underage marriages. (Webmaster's comment: If you immigrate to our country you must abide by our laws. Period!)

6-15-16 Did internalised homophobia spark Orlando nightclub attack?
Did internalised homophobia spark Orlando nightclub attack?
Reports that Orlando gunman Omar Mateen had been a regular at the gay nightclub he attacked and used gay dating apps have led to speculation that he was motivated by internalised homophobia. But what is it, and could it have anything to do with the worst shooting in recent US history?

6-14-16 The secret life of a transgender airman
The secret life of a transgender airman
Transgender people are banned from serving in the US armed forces, yet an estimated 12,800 do, the vast majority in secret. Jane, a senior airman, has hidden her gender identity from the military for 25 years. She hopes a policy review announced last year will allow her finally to be herself.

6-14-16 The Orlando shooting wasn't organized terrorism. It was mass murder. There's a difference.
The Orlando shooting wasn't organized terrorism. It was mass murder. There's a difference.
Dozens of people being systematically shot to death: It's as American as apple pie. But outside of failed states and active war zones, only America experiences these sort of mass shootings with such clockwork regularity. Our number was up yet again in Orlando, Florida, last weekend, when a man entered a gay nightclub and shot 102 people, killing 49 of them. Conservative pundits and politicians jumped to their usual position and pinned the blame on Islam. It's little more than the usual anti-Muslim bigotry — but it also illustrates a key tactical distinction that is often overlooked at times like these. When confronted with an incident of political violence, it's critical to recognize whether it is organized or the result of a single unbalanced person — because it will call for a different response. His ex-wife (they divorced in 2011), who described abuse at his hands, said in an interview that he was "mentally unstable and mentally ill," and not particularly religious. Others described a man with extreme anger problems and overt bigotry towards all manner of people.Webmaster's comment: The story is right. This was a mass murder by a man who hated gays and had easy access to automatic weapons meant only for the mass killing of human beings.)

6-14-16 Living with my lesbian partner where it's illegal to be gay
Living with my lesbian partner where it's illegal to be gay
After Sunday's attack on a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, where 49 people were killed by a gunman, vigils in the US, UK and elsewhere have shown solidarity and support for LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) people worldwide. But in Iran, committing homosexual acts can incur the death penalty, and being gay can put severe strain on family relationships. Sara, who is 23, has lived in her mother's house with her girlfriend for four years. Here, both mother and daughter explain how difficult their life has become.

6-13-16 What are you willing to give up to avoid another mass shooting?
What are you willing to give up to avoid another mass shooting?
Just like the politicians in Washington, you probably have some strong opinions about mass shootings and some ideas about what we can do to prevent them. But it's time we start asking ourselves: What are we willing to give up to stanch the mass bloodletting? What would you give up to make these mass shootings disappear, or at least become a lot more rare? Gun enthusiasts, would you be willing to give up large-capacity magazines or even certain type of long guns in return for a big expansion of mental health services? Civil libertarians, would you accept more invasive surveillance in exchange for increased protections for gays and lesbians or less punitive sentencing for nonviolent drug offenders? Gun safety advocates, would you be alright with limits on violence in video games if it means modest new gun regulations? (Webmaster's comment: This was an America citizen who hated gays. He could legally buy any guns he wanted and then use then as he would. Why this talk of limiting immigrants when they are not the problem?)

Stop Gun Violence and Homophobia NOW

6-13-16 Prayers for Orlando 'shallow' without religious LGBT support, says bishop
Prayers for Orlando 'shallow' without religious LGBT support, says bishop
The Bishop of Cork, Cloyne and Ross has condemned people of faith who don't support the LGBT community, in the wake of the shootings at a gay nightclub in Orlando. Dr Paul Colton says when many religious people do not "include LGBT people" in daily life, "prayers are shallow". Omar Mateen, 29, killed 49 people and wounded 53 at the Pulse club before being shot dead by police. It's the deadliest shooting in modern US history.

6-12-16 Muslim farmers build church for Christian neighbours
Muslim farmers build church for Christian neighbours
Muslim farmers in a village in near the city of Gojra in Pakistan's Punjab province are putting their savings together and helping build a church for the Christians in their neighbourhood. How does such tolerance and harmony exist in a place known for religious violence? (Webmaster's comment: The Muslims, Christians, and Jews all lived in peace in the "Holy Lands" and in Moorish Spain before the Crusades. The Christians started the Great Intolerance and they haven't stopped hating Muslims since. It's all documented in the movies When the Moors Ruled in Europe, Cities of Light, Crusades, The Crusades, and Holy Warriors, and the books Armies of Heaven, and Holy Warriors on this website. The Christian Crusaders committed many atrocities and actually skewered Muslim children on spits, cooked, and ate them. They did this because they hadn't brought enough food and the Catholic Pope had given them absolution for any and all sins if they went on a Crusade. The many atrocities are all documented in the books and have never been refuted.)

6-12-16 Ukrainian gay pride marchers enjoy peaceful event
Ukrainian gay pride marchers enjoy peaceful event
A gay pride march has passed off peacefully in Kiev for the first time in its history. Thousands of police officers were deployed in the Ukrainian capital to stop far-right extremists targeting the so-called 'Equality March'.

6-10-16 Coming out of the closet.
Coming out of the closet.
More Americans are having gay sex—or at least admitting to it. The percentage of adult men who reported having sex with another man has increased from 4.5 percent in the early 1990s to 8.2 percent, while the percentage of women who had sex with a woman increased from 3.6 percent to 8.7 percent.

6-10-16 Don't save the gays
Don't save the gays
U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tex.) has challenged his fellow lawmakers to exclude gay people from future space colonies. If the world is facing a civilization-ending asteroid strike, Gohmert said in a speech on the House floor, we may have to launch a Noah’s Ark–type spaceship. “If you could decide what 40 people you put on the spacecraft that will save humanity,” he said, it would make no sense to include “same-sex couples.” (Webmaster's comment: Absolutely Nuts!)

6-10-16 Guantánamo’s ‘forever prisoners’
Guantánamo’s ‘forever prisoners’
President Obama came into office vowing to close the notorious prison at Guantánamo Bay. Why didn’t he succeed? There are still 80 “enemy combatants” being held at the Guantánamo Bay military detention center at the U.S. naval base in Cuba. That’s down from the total of 779 inmates imprisoned there since the Bush administration created the detention center as part of the “war on terror” in January 2002. When President Obama took office in 2009, 242 inmates remained, most of whom hadn’t been charged with a crime; days later, he signed an executive order requiring Guantánamo to be closed within the year. But Obama’s efforts to empty the facility and transfer remaining inmates to federal prisons have been stymied by adamant Republican opposition. Guantánamo correspondent Carol Rosenberg was assigned by The Miami Herald to cover the prison’s closure more than 12 years ago. “As it stands,” says Rosenberg, “it could be that we will just be waiting for the last guy to die before it closes.” (Webmaster's comment: In other words it's a DEATH CAMP just like the Nazi's had! What a travesty for a nation supposedly standing for freedom and liberty to have. Supported by your Republican legislators.)

6-10-16 Judging people by facial ‘types’
Judging people by facial ‘types’
It’s traditionally frowned upon to judge a book by its cover, but an Israeli-based startup is touting technology designed to do precisely that: Identify terrorists, pedophiles, geniuses, and a dozen other “types,” good and bad, just by analyzing people’s faces. Dubbed Faception, the fledgling company is already under contract with a U.S. homeland security agency, The Washington Post reports. The algorithm works by sorting images into custom personas with unique personality traits and behaviors based on facial features that may be undetectable by the human eye. “Our personality is determined by our DNA and reflected in our face,” says CEO Shai Gilboa. “It’s a kind of signal.” Faception claims results are accurate 80 percent of the time; the technology identified nine of the 11 terrorists who carried out the Paris attacks and predicted two of three finalists in a 50-player poker tournament. But the Orwellian implications are obvious, and experts warn that the likelihood of false positives is still unacceptably high. “Can I predict that you’re an ax murderer just by looking at your face and therefore I should arrest you?” asks University of Washington computer scientist Pedro Domingos. “You can see how this would be controversial.”

6-9-16 Davontae Sanford mother: 'I told my son to admit murder'
Davontae Sanford mother: 'I told my son to admit murder'
Davontae Sanford was released from prison in Detroit on Wednesday after serving nine years for four murders he did not commit. He had confessed to the murders - but he was just 14 at the time, has learning difficulties and did not have an adult with him when he was interviewed. Two weeks after his conviction a professional hitman confessed to the killings, but it took nine years before Davontae's conviction was quashed. (Webmaster's comment: And he was black. Another victim of our American INJUSTICE system.)

6-8-16 Gay mullah flees Iran over secret same-sex weddings
Gay mullah flees Iran over secret same-sex weddings
In Iran, homosexuality is banned and punishable by execution under its strict code of sharia, or Islamic law. In a country dominated by the religious class, being gay is taboo, and especially among the establishment. One Iranian gay cleric, who conducted gay weddings in secret, was forced to flee the country, and has been threatened with death. (Webmaster's comment: In Iran gay men can be hung or raped to death.)

6-8-16 Why Uncle Sam needs to clean up coal country
Why Uncle Sam needs to clean up coal country
Coal mining is in a state of slow-motion collapse. Three of the industry's biggest players — Peabody Energy, Arch Coal, and Alpha Natural Resources — have filed for bankruptcy within the last year. As they shutter their doors, they leave behind ruined landscapes throughout Pennsylvania, Kentucky, West Virginia, Wyoming, and the rest of coal country: abandoned mines, dynamited mountain tops, piles of refuse and polluted rivers and valleys. (Webmaster's comment: How to take the money home and not pay the bill for what you've done, DECLARE BANKRUPCY! These capitalist pig executives will never be held accountable for what they've done! They'll be sitting pretty with millions while we get stuck with cleaning up after them!)

6-8-16 President Obama backs Indian entry to nuclear technology
President Obama backs Indian entry to nuclear technology
US President Barack Obama has backed India's entry into the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCG) and Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). India's entry into these groups will give it easier access to technology for research and advancement. (Webmaster's comment: Half the India people do not have toilets but they spend their money making nukes.)

6-7-16 Elon Musk's artificial intelligence
Elon Musk's artificial intelligence
Twitter has been aflame with a pronouncement from Elon Musk. According to the visionary entrepreneur, the odds are very high that we're all living in a version of the Matrix. (Webmaster's comment: This idea is just like God. Just because you can imagine it doesn't make it so!)

6-6-16 Bikini Atoll radiation levels remain alarmingly high
Bikini Atoll radiation levels remain alarmingly high
New measurements made decades after Pacific island used to test nuclear bombs. Remnant radiation levels from nuclear testing near Bikini Atoll in the Pacific Ocean are far higher than previously predicted, new research shows. Radioactive material such as cesium-137 currently produces, on average, 184 millirems of radiation per year on Bikini Atoll. And some parts of the island hit 639 millirems per year, researchers report online the week of June 6 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Those measurements, made last year, surpass the 100 millirems per year safety standard set by the United States and the Republic of the Marshall Islands, which controls the island. (Webmaster's comment: Thank You America for destroying our homeland!)

6-4-16 Bishops face sack for mishandling abuse under papal plans
Bishops face sack for mishandling abuse under papal plans
Pope Francis has approved measures to sack bishops who mishandle child sexual abuse cases, a papal decree says. The Pope says tougher laws are also required to combat clerical child sexual abuse. Bishops who are "negligent" in dealing with priests committing abuse will be removed under the new legal procedures. The decree comes in response to long-running demands by abuse victims and their supporters to hold bishops accountable if they fail to protect their flocks from paedophiles. The Roman Catholic Church has for much of the last 15 years been forced on the defensive by scandals involving priests who are alleged to have abused children and then been transferred rather than handed over to the authorities.

6-3-16 Sioux Falls Atheists Billboard Vandalized!

Sioux Falls Atheists Billboard Vandalized!

6-3-16 "Trump supporters won’t let you live"
"Trump supporters won’t let you live"
Two Muslim women were harassed in a California ice cream parlor by a fellow customer who yelled, “I don’t want them in my country.” Malaak Ammari, 21, and Nura Takkish, 22, who are American citizens, praised the shop employee who refused to serve the man and calmly asked him to leave. Takkish later uploaded a video of the incident on Twitter, along with the caption, “When you’re just trying to eat your ice cream but Trump supporters won’t let you live.”

6-3-16 Is Elon Musk right, are we really living in a simulated cosmos?
Is Elon Musk right, are we really living in a simulated cosmos?
Why is technology evangelist Elon Musk so convinced that we are part of some giant computer simulation, wonders Geraint Lewis. Are we, and the universe we inhabit, a simulation? SpaceX and Tesla Motors supremo Elon Musk thinks so, telling us that there is a billions to one chance that we actually exist physically: it is much more likely that we are data swirling around in someone’s immense supercomputer. What led him to this strange conclusion? There are some intriguing properties of the universe that make us stop and think about the possibility of a simulation, in particular the masses of fundamental particles, such as electrons and quarks, and the strengths of the forces that dictate their interactions. Growing evidence tells us that if the universe had been born with masses and forces only slightly different to the ones we have, the results would have been catastrophic, with a dead and sterile cosmos. Perhaps we are only here because some higher dimensional programmer “fine-tuned” our fundamental laws to produce some interesting results. (Webmaster's comment: Nuts! The universe is what it is. We are just along for the ride.)

6-1-16 Why you should always cast a suspicious eye on American power
Why you should always cast a suspicious eye on American power
When in doubt, call for more oversight! Over the weekend Daniel Drezner, professor at Tufts University and writer for The Washington Post, got into an interesting debate with a number of leftists on Twitter. The question at issue was worldwide American military hegemony: Is it good or bad? Drezner took the "good" position, while Adam Johnson of Alternet took the contrary view. Both sides make some pretty good points. But regardless of one's position on the American empire, anyone in Drezner's position must recognize a basic duty to keep a suspicious eye on government activity — especially when it involves the use of force. (Webmaster's comment: United States violates the rights of other nations all the time and has done so since the 1870's. Our "Interests" have been the excuse we use to kill people in other nations to gain territory and to force them to accept our corporations for our profit at their expense. Read Killing Hope, Rogue State, and House of War for a complete history.)

6-1-16 The gay Cuban-American breaking barriers in Washington
The gay Cuban-American breaking barriers in Washington
University leaders might talk about the virtues of diversity but they don't often embody it. But not Ana Mari Cauce, president of the University of Washington in Seattle in the United States. As well as being a first lady in Washington - as in the first female president of this major US university - she is also Cuban-American and gay. It gives her a different perspective on the wave of protests about race and identity that have hit US university campuses. Her brother was a civil rights campaigner who was killed at an anti-Ku Klux Klan rally - and she told her students how she had had to break the news of his death to her mother.

6-1-16 Mind Melds And Brain Beams: The Dawn Of Brain-To-Brain Communication
Mind Melds And Brain Beams: The Dawn Of Brain-To-Brain Communication
Music students download the technique of their favorite pianist or singer directly into their brains. Medical students download the skills of a seasoned surgeon or diagnostician. And each one of us routinely uploads our thoughts and memories to the digital cloud. While these scenarios still lie in the future, rudimentary versions of the necessary brain-to-brain technology exist today. But the ability to directly influence another person’s brain raises serious questions about human rights and individual freedoms. This program will present the latest technology and explore how the ethical implications of enhanced thinking go to the heart of consciousness itself.

64 Atheism & Humanism News Articles
for June 2016

Atheism News & Humanism Articles for May 2016