In a New York Times op-ed, Susan Jacoby takes a hard look at the Trump administration’s siege on the wall of separation and its reliance on “religious rationalizations” for policy, and she shouts out the Center for Inquiry as one of the organizations working to deal with this “fundamental problem.” She writes:
The very meaning of the phrases “religious liberty” and “religious freedom”— traditionally understood as referring to the right of Americans to practice whatever faith they wish or no faith at all — is being altered to mean that government should foster a closer relationship with those who want to mix their Christian faith with taxpayer dollars.
Scott Pruitt can destroy no more worlds, as he resigns as head of the EPA after being the subject of approximately forty-bazillion stories about his weird spending and unethical behavior. (He must be kept moist.) I know, who’d have guessed he’d abuse this position, right??
Pruitt’s okay, though, because everything is part of God’s plan. That’s what he told the president in his creepy resignation letter:
I believe you are serving as President today because of God’s providence. I believe that same providence brought me into your service. I pray as I have served you that I have blessed you and enabled you to effectively lead the American people.
Don’t get too excited. Pruitt’s replacement, Andrew Wheeler, is just like Pruitt, but not as personally weird:
Wheeler spent a decade lobbying for just the sort of companies the agency regulates, and before that he worked for Sen. James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.), who rejects climate change.
So nothing gets better.
Australian parents will now have their family tax credits docked if they don’t get their kids vaccinated.
Alice Su at The Atlantic profiles secularists in Iraq:
Today, nearly one year after Mosul’s liberation from isis, a growing group of young Iraqis like him are gathering in newly opened bookstores, cafes, and on Facebook, speaking freely about secularism, atheism, and their country’s need for nonsectarian institutions.
A coalition of Pennsylvania newspapers reveal that a mammoth grand jury report about decades of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy was being suppressed by…Catholic clergy. From the Philadelphia Inquirer:
Attorney General Josh Shapiro, whose office led the investigation that produced the grand jury report, on Thursday called the clergy members’ legal filing “nothing more than a desperate attempt to stop the public from learning the truth about their abhorrent conduct.”
In a statement, he called the report accurate and said, “The airing of these facts should happen in public — not hidden behind redacted, meritless legal motions designed to further cover up decades of abuse and reprehensible conduct.”
George Dvorsky at Gizmodo writes about as troubling report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, showing that NASA is not doing enough to keep Earth microbes from infecting the rest of the Solar System, or potential alien microbes from infecting Earth.
At CSICOP.org, Jamie Hale writes that skepticism alone can’t make one a scientific thinker:
Scientific cognition involves much more than general scientific knowledge, procedural skills to conduct research, attaching “science says” to your statements, a science degree, perpetuating views of popular science figures, identifying yourself as evidence based, asking for evidence, being skeptical, etc. Scientific thinking involves an array of components and can be used in everyday, out of the lab, thinking.
Despite a policy forbidding such products, Amazon is still making money off people selling Nazi and white supremacist merchandise.
Quote of the Day
Did you know that Scotland has an official policy regarding actual discovery of the Loch Ness Monster? THEY DO. If you come upon Nessie, you can get a sample of its DNA, but that’s it, you have to let it go.
Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, says she believes in the creature, though I think she means that with a wink. There’s no winking here, however, because she does not like these people who are interviewing her:
As everyone in Scotland knows, of course Nessie exists, so I think you’re treading on pretty dangerous waters here if you don’t mind me saying. And you can patronize me, you can patronize the SNP, you can patronize Scotland, you’ve probably tried most of that this morning, but patronizing Nessie? I think that’s pretty dodgy.
She is then asked, if Nessie turns out not to exist, does that make all of her other statements false? Sturgeon responds:
You’re not actually asking me that as a serious question are you?
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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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