Ding Dong

May 18, 2017

The Morning Heresy is your daily digest of news and links relevant to the secular and skeptic communities.

First up, check out the latest Cause & Effect newsletter, if for no other reason than it opens with a comforting picture of Stephen Fry having some tea.

Roger Ailes, who helped bring Nixon to power, who created the lie-factory of Fox News, who fomented racism and misogyny and xenophobia, who forced the women who worked for him to debase and humiliate themselves for his pleasure, is dead. Dead, dead, dead.

Chris Cornell is dead too. Feelin’ Minnesota.

Trump starts his morning as expected. NYT reports:

In a pair of early morning Twitter posts, Mr. Trump cited, without evidence, what he called the “illegal acts” committed by the administration of his predecessor, Barack Obama, and the campaign of his former opponent, Hillary Clinton — and said they never led to the appointment of a special counsel. He misspelled the word counsel as councel. 

The U.S. has denied visas to dozens of gay Chechens who are attempting to flee the murders, torture, and imprisonment taking place in Chechnya.

The Washington Post gets a look at Trump’s education budget. You’re not gonna liiiiike iiiiiit:

Funding for college work-study programs would be cut in half, public-service loan forgiveness would end and hundreds of millions of dollars that public schools could use for mental health, advanced coursework and other services would vanish under a Trump administration plan to cut $10.6 billion from federal education initiatives…It seeks to spend about $400 million to expand charter schools and vouchers for private and religious schools… 

Oh, and it so happens that it’s possible for donors to private schools to actually financially profit from those donations. Um, for the children, I’m sure. 

Margaret Sullivan warns that it’s pretty easy for a president to start rounding up journalists they don’t like. Just ask Turkey.

An editorial in Nature expresses hope that Pope Fluffy is getting fluffier toward science, and more specifically the plight of the poor and an openness to allowing them to “take control of their fertility” when it comes to contraception and preventing the passing on of genetic illnesses. 

Some charges related to a sexual abuse case at a Connecticut Catholic church are being dismissed on First Amendment grounds. Howard Friedman writes:

While the trial court permitted plaintiff to move ahead on a number of his claims, it dismissed three of them on the ground that these would impermissibly entangle the court in matters of discipline, faith, internal organization, or ecclesiastical rule, custom, or law.  

Kimberly Winston looks at the work of Ian Johnson, whose new book explores the rise of religion in largely-atheistic China.

Big Think has a video of Robert M. Sapolsky on the possible evolutionary advantages of religious belief. Relatedly, a new study in Evolutionary Psychological Science suggests that atheism is a sign of “problem solving” skills that rises above the “instinct” of religious belief.

Tom Roberts at the National Catholic Register looks into the very complicated books of the Knights of Columbus. Yeah, they have a LOT of money. 

UK’s Royal National Lifeboat Institution says people should be a lot more careful about weather conditions when they go out looking for Nessie. “Loch Ness often takes people by surprise.” 

Sam Elliot will star in a movie that is actually, truthfully, for real titled The Man Who Killed Hitler And Then The Bigfoot.

God is seen shining a light on car accident victims as he prepares to take them up to Heaven. That, or he’s using a giant magnifying glass to cook some humans ant-style.

Quote of the Day:

For your intellectual stimulation, please enjoy the exchange of ideas taking place at the fan forums of angry conservative “actor” Tim Allen:


Yes. It is interesting. 

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