Subpoena That Cat

June 14, 2018

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Wow, yesterday was busy. Settle in, folks.

Let’s say you’re a state. Not like a state of matter like a liquid or a gas, but a political and geographic entity within a federal republic, like, for example, the United States of America, just to name one at random. If you, the state in question—and for now let’s call it Schmorth Schmarolina—decide to give a quarter-million dollars to an organization whose sole purpose is to evangelize young men to give a “lifetime of service to Jesus Christ,” or something similar, we at the Schmenter for Schminquiry…sorry, the Center for Inquiry, are going to have something to say about that, and that something to say may include a threat of legal action. OH HEY LOOK THAT VERY THING IS HAPPENING RIGHT NOW.

And by coincidence the state is, in fact, North Carolina, which is bestowing $250,000 in taxpayer funds to Cross Trail Outfitters, which is not like L.L. Bean, but more like Focus on the Family with hiking boots. Here’s us, before making our legal threat:

There is no gray area here. No wringing of hands or gnashing of teeth are necessary to see that this is a $250,000 taxpayer giveaway to an overtly Christian ministry for the purpose of promoting Christianity, and that’s a violation of the Constitution, plain as day.

We learned yesterday that Egyptian atheist activist Sherif Gaber was arrested back in May, according to reports, on blasphemy-related charges and for some bizarre conspiracy theory about taking over the Egyptian government. And that’s not okay, sez us:

The Egyptian people know that their country has the potential to be a beacon of hope, progress, and tolerance. But they must demand that their leaders reject the persecution of political dissidents and the nonreligious. This cradle of civilization must not engage in thuggery and oppression, and allow itself to stumble back to the Dark Ages. Release Sherif Gaber now.

The National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine has released a major report on sexual harassment in science, and yeah, things are pretty bad. Sarah Kaplan and Ben Guarino at the Post report:

Harassment pervades lecture halls and laboratories, observatories and offices, teaching hospitals and Antarctic field sites. [. . . ] About half of the women detailed physical abuse but far more prevalent were sexist remarks, jokes and inappropriate comments. One assistant professor of engineering described the “mind games” of other colleagues, meant to demean women at an intellectual level.

This is not only awful at a basic human level, but it also holds back science itself. Julia Belluz writes:

An environment that demeans women and makes them feel frightened or excluded is also an environment in which women have difficulty excelling. And women who worked in labs and hospitals where they experienced harassment were more likely to be absent from work, avoid conferences and meetings, and quit their jobs, the report found.

More bad news: The suicide rate in the U.S. has jumped 30 percent since 2000.

Mike Pence, who you’ll recall is Vice President of the United States in real life (see previous news item) makes ’em swoon at the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting in Dallas.”I’ll make you a promise,” he said. “This president, this vice president, and our administration will always stand with you.” See, I don’t think you’re technically supposed to make that kind of promise to a religious sect.

Anyway, not everyone was thrilled to see Mike shill for his boss.

Also addressing the flock was Texas governor Greg Abbott, the guy who used the National Guard to stop Obama from using Special Forces to take over his state. Abbott warned the enormous crowd of well-to-do white people who have political veto power over national policy, have entire media empires at their disposal, and countless advocacy groups that are positively bursting with cash, that they are being silenced. I’m sorry, what’s that, Governor? I can’t hear you over your cheering throngs.

This October, the people of Ireland will vote on whether to repeal the country’s blasphemy law. Oh hell yes.

A new report from Pew Research puts more numbers to what you already know to be true: Young folks are less likely to be religious than older folks, and it’s not just in the U.S.:

Although the age gap in religious commitment is larger in some nations than in others, it occurs in many different economic and social contexts – in developing countries as well as advanced industrial economies, in Muslim-majority nations as well as predominantly Christian states, and in societies that are, overall, highly religious as well as those that are comparatively secular.

In Australia, secular groups are demanding that federally-funded school chaplaincy programs (what?) drop the requirement that would-be chaplains be connected to an organized religion.

Just in case you were wondering, the Boy Scouts of America, or whatever they’re called now, made sure that everyone knows that as inclusive as they may seem, atheists need not apply.

In contrast to the skeptical investigation philosophy of Joe Nickell, Mick West writes at CSICOP.org that skeptics should embrace the “debunker” label, and debunk the hell out of things.

In Nevada, legislators are considering scrapping the state’s Board of Homeopathic Medicine. They must know that we’re on our way to their state really soon, and they’re embarrassed. (Actually it looks like they’re just in debt.)

Bee-tee-dubs, did you get your Cause & Effect newsletter yesterday delivered hot and fresh to your inbox? No? Okay no problem I happen to have a spare copy right here. But you should really sign up for our emails. (Over on the right of the page.)

The Kimpton Hotel Monaco in Portland, Oregon offers among its amenities a pet psychic. I give up.

On the other hand, Russia apparently has its own psychic cat! Don’t you think this is who Mueller ought to be talking to?

Quote of the Day

Dr. Jen Gunter writes in the New York Times…well, I’ll just tell you the headline:

Here Are Things Not to Put in Your Vagina

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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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