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Crawling Back to Hell

August 29, 2019

16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg is my goddamned hero. She finished her 15-day voyage across the Atlantic Ocean, landing in New York City, and saying this of President Trump:

My message to him is just to listen to the science, and he obviously doesn’t do that.

This is very true. Case in point: He’s rolling back regulations on methane emissions. Oh, good lord, we are so deeply screwed.

Gail Gordon Donegan, a Democratic activist in Alexandria, Virginia and an atheist, was to serve on a commission on women’s issues formed by Gov. Ralph Northam. Then folks looked at her Twitter history. The Richmond Times-Dispatch unloads many examples, such as:

  • in 2017 tweeted to Radkiha Jones, the editor in chief of Vanity Fair, and told her to “F— off, eat shit, and crawl back to hell.”
  • made jokes about Catholic priests being pedophiles. In 2010, Donegan wrote: “Abortion is morally indefensible to Catholic priests bcuz it results in fewer children to rape.”
  • Donegan wrote in 2010: “Saw a bumper sticker: ‘You can’t be both Catholic & Pro-Choice.’ Add: You can be a pedophile though!”
  • Donegan retweeted a tweet in 2010 that said Christmas is “the one time of year the Catholic Church is allowed to focus on a little boy.”
  • tweeted a joke in 2013 to John Whitbeck, then-chairman of the 10th District Republican Committee, and to Ken Cuccinelli, then the Republican nominee for governor: “Dr, lawyer & priest on Titantic [sic]. Doc: save the children! lawyer: f— the children! Priest: Is there time?”

She has since resigned.

The New Statesman profiles Saudi atheist Rana Ahmad, telling of her struggles with her faith, her fear of Saudi authorities, and what she’s done since getting out:

Since she arrived in Cologne, Rana has learnt German and gone back to school to obtain her German high school certificate. As well as volunteering for the Red Cross and writing a book, she has founded Atheist Refugee Relief, which aims to help people like herself escape persecution and adjust to their new home.

“That’s what happens when girls get out of Saudi Arabia. We are hungry to be free, we are hungry to work, we are hungry to study, we are hungry to experience everything that we weren’t allowed to”, she says.

Richard Dawkins is the guest on the Channel 4 interview series Ways to Change the World, where they discuss his new book Outgrowing God, and, among other things, aliens!

YouTube is expanding its efforts to curtail algorithmic recommendations of conspiracy theory content to the UK.

In Missouri, the St. Joseph Public Library board of trustees held a big public meeting to address the most pressing issue of our time: Drag Queen Story Hour. The good news: They’re keeping it.

At Skeptical Inquirer, Susan Gerbic writes about how one of her psychic-busting team members was able to show that alleged psychics like Thomas John can easily find out lots of information about people and make it seem like he has some connection to the beyond. He doesn’t:

To people who want to continue to believe Thomas John is really communicating with their dead family members, I would say: if you are falling back on the “there is no way he could have known that” argument, I say there are many ways he can know.

Popular Mechanics reminds us that weather predictions from The Farmer’s Almanac are pseudoscience.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals rules that the Fundamentalist LDS church has been conspiring with authorities in the towns of Colorado City, Arizona and Hildale, Utah to “advance the objectives” of the church and discriminate against non-members. The AP reports:

The 9th Circuit ruled the existence of a conspiracy was backed up by evidence that church leaders determined who served in governmental posts and that the police department shared by both towns turned a blind eye to the illegal activities of church leaders.

Betsy S. Harnage, register of deeds in Cleveland County, North Carolina, refused to issue marriage licenses to couples married by the mail-order Universal Life Church, so the church is suing. She’s like a mini-Kim Davis.

Here’s an ugly and awkward situation: A nurse in Vermont says she was sort of tricked into helping perform an abortion, to which she holds a “moral objection.” The AP reports:

The nurse believed she would be participating in a procedure after a patient had suffered a miscarriage, office Director Roger Severino told reporters on a conference call. Instead, he said, she was told “‘Please don’t hate me’ by the doctor” when it became clear it was an abortion.

However…

Susan Berke Fogel, a leader of the National Health Law Program, which advocates for reproductive health, said the Vermont case is missing details of what the nurse was being asked to do. The Health and Human Services Department, she said, has been expanding the definition of what it means to assist in abortion procedures.

“They are definitely highlighting and putting forward cases that will achieve that goal that anybody can refuse to participate in anything,” she said. “And surely, the long-term goal is to get hospitals and other systems to stop providing abortions and gender-affirming care.”

In Brazil, both Catholic and Protestant church leaders are trying to get President Bolsonaro to do something about the Amazon fires, while his evangelical allies are keeping quiet or supporting his denial.

Pinterest, which has taken a stand against vaccine misinformation, is now redirecting searches for things like “measles” or “vaccine safety” to actual public health resources. BBC reports:

“We’re taking this approach because we believe that showing vaccine misinformation alongside resources from public health experts isn’t responsible,” the firm said in a statement.

“As we continue to tackle health misinformation, we remove it and the accounts that spread it from our service,” Pinterest said.

The firm also said it won’t show ads, comments or recommendations on results pages for vaccine searches.

New Jersey’s physician-assisted suicide law is reinstated by a state appellate court after a temporary stay, but a lawsuit aimed at scrapping the law is still going forward.

Next time I’m back home in Jersey, I’ll now know to avoid the Paranormal Books & Curiosities store in Asbury Park. “Patrons can get psychic readings, go on ghost tours and ghost hunts,” reports News 12. Great.

Sanam Yar at the New York Times explores how therapists are, I guess, humoring their patients who go for astrology, psychics, and other nonsense like that, as a means of getting to the stuff that matters:

In cases where there is little credible research or information on a method, Dr. Bufka said that the clinician should discuss why that particular practice is meaningful to the client. “Is there something that they’re not getting from their psychotherapy or other care that they hope that they will get from this?” she said.

Franklin Graham is really, really mad at Taylor Swift for supporting the Equality Act, but I’m sure she can shake it off.

Quote of the Day

Molly T. Marshall, president of the Central Baptist Theological Seminary, writing at Baptist News Global, gets what religious liberty actually means:

Religious liberty does not mean persons can do whatever they please. We live in community as citizens in a democracy that has both legal and social obligations. The free exercise of religion is within a larger commonwealth, which has implications for the religious liberty of others.

Thus, the limits of religious liberty have to do with whether or not its exercise causes harm to another. Precluding employment, housing or public accommodation is life-threatening and injures already vulnerable citizens. …

… We must work to preserve human dignity and religious liberty for all. This means that employment, housing and commercial services are equally available to all. It is the right thing to do; it is good for our community; and, yes, it is good for business. Across the nation, the law is trending toward equality. The church must not lag behind.

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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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