The Morning Heresy is your daily digest of news and links relevant to the secular and skeptic communities.
Happy Thursday. I’m still sick, and the world is still burning down, but at least there’s a new Samsung Galaxy phone. Which means it’s all going to be okay.
Oh wait, no it’s not. Today in everything-is-hopeless:
The House “Science” Committee holds a sham hearing in which a bunch of unspeakably cynical people in positions of power manufactured confusion about reality. Michael Mann was the only real scientist there, and he took the various metaphorical kicks to the head from the GOP. He said:
Going after scientists simply because you don’t like the implications of their research—not because their science is bad but because you find their science inconvenient to the special interests who fund your campaigns—I would hope we could all agree that is completely inappropriate. It’s a threat to science. It’s a threat to our prosperity as a nation, which relies on scientific research, unfettered, honest scientific research.
Also, other climate science-deniers want Congress to fund “red teams” (ominous) to even more vigorously challenge the consensus on climate change.
The Department of Energy instructs its employees not to use the terms “climate change,” “emissions reduction,” and “Paris Agreement.”
Oh! And! Trump’s rollback of the Clean Power Plan will make us all sick and make it harder to breathe. But who needs respiration when you’re bringing all those coal jobs back, which will last forever.
Iran is set to execute 21-year-old Sina Dehghan for criticizing Islam.
The Trump administration is removing questions about sexual orientation from the 2020 census. Meghan Maury of the National LGBTQ Task Force responds:
LGBTQ people are not counted on the Census — no data is collected on sexual orientation or gender identity. Information from these surveys helps the government to enforce federal laws like the Violence Against Women Act and the Fair Housing Act and to determine how to allocate resources like housing supports and food stamps. If the government doesn’t know how many LGBTQ people live in a community, how can it do its job to ensure we’re getting fair and adequate access to the rights, protections and services we need?
Andrew Napolitano, who Trump got the whole “Obama was wiretapping me” idea, is back on TV, sticking to this conspiratorial guns.
Nikki Haley, who, remember, was supposed to be one of the steadier elements of the Trump administration, declares the UN Human Rights Council to be “so corrupt,” and declines to back up the claim.
Pakistan is putting the squeeze on NGOs who might try and, you know, report on its human rights problems.
Here’s a thing you can do: Sign up right now to join the Center for Inquiry at one of the many, many Marches of Science on April 22.
North Carolina seems to be on track to dial back its egregious “bathroom bill,” but it’s not a clean break by any means.
The court in Hawaii that blocked the new travel ban has extended its suspension.
Nineteen schools in New South Wales, Australia are deemed to be at risk of being influenced by “violent extremism,” and Anthony Bergin suggests programs for “the comprehensive study of different religions to help students distinguish between religion and ideology.”
Mustafa Akyol says Muslim opinion leaders need to make up their minds as to whether they want the benefits of liberalism:
[Muslims in the west] are threatened by Islamophobic forces against which they need the protections offered by liberalism — freedom of speech, freedom of religion, nondiscrimination. But the same liberalism also brings them realities that most of them find un-Islamic — irreverence toward religion, tolerance of L.G.B.T. people, permissive attitudes on sex. They can’t easily decide, therefore, whether liberalism is good or bad for Muslims.
Sarwar Jahan Chowdhury at WION argues for a much more robust embrace of secularism in Bangladesh:
Whatever is the name, it’s imperative for Bangladesh to hold on to secularism in one form or the other to be able to remain a modern nation and be on the path of gradual progre
ssion. Or else, an implosion of society or degeneration to a theocracy can’t be ruled out. Some hope lies in the thriving of secular media, in the vigour shown by the intelligentsia and the strong resistance put forth by sections of the public alongside secular political forces.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali publishes a new paper for the Hoover Institution: The Challenge of Dawa: Political Islam as Ideology and Movement and How to Counter It.
Richard Dawkins says the Labour Party needs to rebrand as the “European Party” to build a new consensus, and makes important points about the popular rejection of expertise:
Am I being elitist? Of course. What’s wrong with that? We want elite surgeons who know their anatomy, elite pilots who know how to fly, elite engineers to build safe bridges, elite athletes to win at the Olympics for Team GB, elite architects to design beautiful buildings, elite teachers and professors to educate the next generation and help them join the elite. In the same way, to decide the affairs of state, as we live in a representative democracy, we can at least hope to elect elite parliamentarians, guided and advised by elite, highly educated civil servants. Not politicians who abdicate their democratic responsibility and hand important decisions over to people like me.
If you’d like to try and help make up for what our government refuses to do to mitigate the disaster of global warming, NYT has some suggestions.
UN human rights experts warn about efforts in the U.S. to clamp down on freedom of assembly via anti-protest legislation…which CFI warned about just two weeks ago at the UN Human Rights Council.
A reformist Muslim group in Malta is arguing that state schools should not be teaching Islamic doctrine.
Maajid Nawaz is profiled in NYT Magazine.
Congress sold your privacy to ISPs, so the Cards Against Humanity guys say they’re going to buy the browser histories of every Member of Congress and their staffs for publication.
The LA Times, which shoved three pop-up ads (one animated) in front of my face before I could see the article, says California now boasts the most UFO sightings in the country. Congratulations?
I haven’t listened to this yet, but Mike Pesca interviews Maria Konnikova about homeopathy on The Gist, and that just seems like something we should hear.
Dude on motorcycle sees Gollum or something.
Ryan F. Mandelbaum at Gizmodo, the luckiest journalist on the Internet, gets to write this sentence: “There’s no way around it. Uranus smells like piss and farts.”
Quote of the Day:
Imma give you a little Paul Kingsnorth, because this is my jam lately:
I’m not hopeless. But I don’t feel hopeful either. Hope is irrelevant.
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Linking to a story or webpage does not imply endorsement by Paul or CFI. Not every use of quotation marks is ironic or sarcastic, but it often is.
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News items that mention political candidates are for informational purposes only and under no circumstances are to be interpreted as statements of endorsement or opposition to any political candidate. CFI is a nonpartisan nonprofit.
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