Delaware Governor Issues Proclamation in Honor of Darwin Day

It has no legal weight, but Delaware Governor Jack Markell issued a proclamation in advance of Darwin Day (on Charles Darwin‘s birthday) recognizing his accomplishments:

[Read more…]

With Worrisome New Rules For Students, French Government Suggests It Now Wavers on Issue of Liberté

What do you do with pupils like these?

Éric Bettancourt, a schoolteacher in Clichy-sous-Bois, a heavily immigrant suburb, told the France 2 television channel that three quarters of his students had refused to observe the moment of silence [after the Charlie Hebdo massacre]. “The first shocking words I heard were that the murders were justified,” Mr. Bettancourt said. “They considered that it was forbidden to make blasphemies or insult the prophet through drawings or speech.”

Question: Were the students who refused to be quiet during the moment of silence not exercising their right to freedom of expression? Are they the equivalent, or near-equivalent, of atheists and others who refuse to say (or decline to rise for) the Pledge of Allegiance in U.S. schools? The case can surely be made.

[Read more…]

Culbert Olson: the California Governor Who Wasn’t Afraid to Admit He Was an Atheist

At an event sponsored by the California State Library and California Archives this week, Debra Deanne Olson spoke about her grandfather and former California governor Culbert Olson.

Olson, who died in 1962, was notable for being that rare atheist in public office. Not only did he skip the “So help me God” part during his oath, he didn’t even swear in on the Bible. He affirmed his oath in 1939 with a hand in the air and the other in his pocket:

[Read more…]

Mike Huckabee Mocks Climate Change: “A Beheading is a Far Greater Threat to an American Than a Sunburn”

At the Iowa Freedom Summit yesterday, potential Republican presidential nominee Mike Huckabee mocked President Obama‘s focus on climate change and suggested he wasn’t doing anything serious to combat the *real* problem we face:

[Read more…]

GOP Congresswoman Doesn’t Support Anti-Abortion Bill, so Conservative Writer Wonders if She’s “Worthy of Life”

You may have heard that Republicans were aiming to vote for a 20-week abortion ban on the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade ruling. Some Republican Congresswomen took issue with the bill, particularly with the limited rape exception. The political repercussions, they feared, would be damaging to the party. Congressional leadership abandoned plans for the vote, and focused instead on H.R. 7, which

would prohibit insurance plans sold in the new health care exchanges from covering abortion, and it would eliminate tax benefits for small businesses that purchase insurance plans covering abortion. The bill would also prevent the District of Columbia from using its own locally raised funds to subsidize abortion care for low-income women.

That bill passed. Some pro-life and conservative voices are not at all happy, however, that the 20-week abortion ban was shelved. Their ire (and vitriol) has come to focus on the Republican congresswomen who voiced concerns with the bill. One of those targets is North Carolina congresswoman Renee Ellmers (below). Which is strange since, as Joan Walsh at Salon notes, Ellmers is hardly the archetype of a woman’s rights activist.

[Read more…]