Category: Anti-Science

Dios Mio! Arizona Superintendent Out to Get Teachers with Accents

No kidding. Arizona superintendent Tom Horne is on the lookout for teachers who pronounce "comma" as "COH-ma."

Oy. Vey.

From Think Progress:

Late last month, the Wall Street Journal reported that the Arizona Department of Education “recently began telling school districts that teachers whose spoken English it deems to be heavily accented or ungrammatical must be removed from classes for students still learning English”:

State education officials say the move is intended to ensure that students with limited English have teachers who speak the language flawlessly. But some school principals and administrators say the department is imposing arbitrary fluency standards that could undermine students by thinning the ranks of experienced educators. […]

This is just one more indication of the incredible anti-immigrant sentiment in the state,” said Bruce Merrill, a professor emeritus at Arizona State University who conducts public-opinion research.

At one school, for example, state auditors complained that teachers pronounced “words such as violet as ‘biolet,’ think as ‘tink’ and swallow the ending sounds of words, as they sometimes do in Spanish.” The principal at that school acknowledged that teachers “should speak grammatically correct English” but said they shouldn’t be punished for having an accent.

The man in charge of this project, far-right Arizona superintendent Tom Horne — who is running for attorney general — has been going on national media in recent days to defend his policies.

What would he do if he wandered into a Latin Mass? Arrest the priest?

More here.

Uganda ‘Phobe to Attend Prayer Breakfast

From The Advocate:

David Bahati, the author of Uganda’s so-called “kill the gays” bill, which proposes the death penalty for gay people, has announced that he will attend the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 4. President Obama is also expected to attend the event.

According to the article, the annual prayer breakfast is organized by The Family, a conservative Christian organization that counts several high-ranking politicians among its members and whose teachings are said to have inspired Bahati’s bill.

‘Climategate’ Emails Show Scientists in Bad Light, Don’t Change Global Warming Consensus published an article regarding the controversy over e-mails between scientists at the Climate Research Unit of the U.K.’s University of East Anglia which were stolen and made public by an as-yet-unnamed hacker. The emails don’t change the consensus: our actions have contributed directly to global warming.

From the article:

The e-mails (which have been made available by an unidentified individual here) do show a few scientists talking frankly among themselves — sometimes being rude, dismissive, insular, or even behaving like jerks. Whether they show anything beyond that is still in doubt. There are two investigations underway, by the U.K.’s Met Office and East Anglia University, and the head of CRU, Phil Jones, has "stepped aside" until they are completed. However, many of the e-mails that are being held up as "smoking guns" have been misrepresented by global-warming skeptics eager to find evidence of a conspiracy. And even if they showed what the critics claim, there remains ample evidence that the earth is getting warmer. Even as the affair was unfolding, the World Meteorological Organization announced on Dec. 8 that the 2000-2009 decade would likely be the warmest on record, and that 2009 might be the fifth warmest year ever recorded. (The hottest year on record was 1998.) This conclusion is based not only on the CRU data that critics are now questioning, but also incorporates data from the U.S.

The e-mails are being exploited to confuse the public:

News converage of the e-mails and the various claims about what they supposedly show may have contributed to public confusion on the subject. A Dec. 3 Rasmussen survey found that only 25 percent of adults surveyed said that "most scientists agree on global warming" while 52 percent said that "there is significant disagreement within the scientific community" and 23 percent said they were not sure. The truth is that over the 13 years covered by the CRU e-mails, scientific consensus has only become stronger as the evidence for global warming from various sources has mounted. Reports from the National Academies and the U.S. Global Change Research Program that analyze large amounts of data from various sources also agree, as does the IPCC, that climate change is not in doubt. In advance of the 2009 U.N. climate change summit, the national academies of 13 nations issued a joint statement of their recommendations for combating climate change, in which they discussed the "human forcing" of global warming and said that the need for action was "indisputable."

The anti-science crowd needs to face the music. What people say in casual emails and conversations in the course of real research is not as neat and clean as the final result. Emails and personal correspondence aren’t the scientific record; peer-reviewed journal articles containing validated data and analysis are what counts in the end.

Read more here.

How Richard Cohen’s Healing Homosexuality Teaching Inspire Uganda’s Gay-Killing Law

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Rachel Maddow has been following reporting on the passage of Uganda’s hateful new legislation which essentially makes homosexuality a capital offense. In the video above, she shows a connection between self-proclaimed ex-gay Richard Cohen’s "pray the gay away" teachings and the new laws.


Last night, Rachel Maddow continued her "Uganda Be Kidding Me" segment by identifying an important source of inspiration for the country’s "gay-killing" legislation: Richard Cohen, a self-proclaimed "ex-gay" turned homosexual "healer." A staff member from his organization, the International Healing Foundation, traveled to Uganda in March to lead a "pray the gay away" event and, soon after, Cohen’s book, "Coming Out Straight: Understanding and Healing Homosexuality," was used as the primary teaching material for the anti-gay workshop that is directly credited with bringing about this disturbing measure.

Longtime Salon readers might recognize the name: Mark Benjamin wrote about Cohen in his four-part series on "curing" same-sex desires. Cohen also stirred up quite the media storm a few years back with an appearance on CNN in which he demonstrated two therapies for homosexuality: Beating a pillow with a tennis racket and screaming at his mother until he was red in the face ("Mom! Mom! Mom! Mom! Why did you do that to me?") and cuddling a fully grown gay man in an attempt to simulate a healthy father-son relationship. If there is anything to be learned from the segment, it’s that Richard Cohen is a very unwell man in need of therapy — just not the kind he thinks.

Read more here.

Very disturbing.

Say It Ain’t So, Michael Steele! RNC Insurance Plan Covers Abortion

Say it ain’t so, Michael Steele! How could it possibly be true that the RNC’s health insurance plan has covered elective abortion since 1991?


The Republican National Committee’s health insurance plan covers elective abortion – a procedure the party’s own platform calls “a fundamental assault on innocent human life.”

Federal Election Commission Records show the RNC purchases its insurance from Cigna. Two sales agents for the company said that the RNC’s policy covers elective abortion.

Informed of the coverage, RNC spokeswoman Gail Gitcho told POLITICO that the policy pre-dates the tenure of current RNC Chairman Michael Steele.

“The current policy has been in effect since 1991, and we are taking steps to address the issue,” Gitcho said.

The RNC moved quickly Wednesday to assuage any concerns its members might have.

In a letter obtained by POLITICO, RNC Chief of Staff Ken McKay writes to the 168 committeemen and committeewomen across the country that Steele "takes this issue very seriously."

He writes that the RNC has been evaluating its health insurance policy and will continue to do so.

Since 1991? Are you kidding me? Are we seriously talking almost two decades of the Republican National Committee making sure their employees have access to elective abortion?

And here’s the real question: in the midst of all the GOP wrangling over abortion in the current health care debate, for how long would the RNC have continued to offer abortion benefits to their employees if POLITICO had not uncovered this?

There’s more here.

Sister Donna Quinn Suspends Activism for Abortion Rights

There’s a headline you won’t see often anywhere.

From the Chicago Tribune:

For decades, Sister Donna Quinn has championed the rights of women to use contraception, seek ordination and end unwanted pregnancies.

The Dominican nun has picketed for abortion rights inWashington, petitioned the pope for a female archbishop and escorted women into abortion clinics.

But as the Vatican turns up scrutiny of the nation’s nuns and U.S. Roman Catholic bishops refuse to support universal health care if it covers abortion, Quinn has put her crusade on hold.

"I want to be clear that this is my decision," she said in a statement Tuesday, saying she would suspend her role as a peacekeeper outside the ACU Health Clinic in Hinsdale. "Respect for women’s moral agency is of critical importance to me, and I look forward to continuing to dialogue with our congregation on these matters as a way of informing my actions as well as educating the community."

On Tuesday, the Wisconsin-based Sinsinawa Dominican order announced that Quinn had been reprimanded for escorting patients into a Hinsdale clinic that provides abortions.

"After investigating the allegation, congregation leaders have informed Sister Donna that her actions are in violation of her profession," Sister Patricia Mulcahey, head of the Sinsinawa Dominicans, said in a statement. "They regret that her actions have created controversy."

It’s no surprise that Sr. Donna Quinn has been asked to curtail her activities. What is amazing, in this climate, is the fact that she has been able to keep working in these activities so long.

What should be more alarming for American Catholics is the fact that the Vatican is investigating nuns in the United States. The sisters "regret that [Sr. Donna Quinn’s] actions have created controversy?" Really? Are the sisters aware of the controversy Christ created? Do they not remember that Jesus went out of his way to spend time with sinners? With those who society stepped on?

Did you know that the Vatican is requiring that each order foot the bill for these investigations? Yes, that’s true. Each order must pay for the airfare, room and board for the Inquisitors from Rome. No kidding at all.

The Vatican would do well to get in touch with the spirit of these women who do these good works.

But the fraternity of bishops, radical conservatives all, won’t get that ever.

My prayers are with Sr. Donna Quinn, and with all American nuns under investigation by bishops who have forgotten Christ’s many controversies.

We Need More Government Stimulus, Says Krugman. Does Congress Have the Courage?

I am a student of Paul Krugman. I believe his The Conscience of a Liberal

should be required reading in every high school and college in the United States. In my humble opinion.

We need the New Deal back, and we need it bad.

President Obama realizes that we are living in a sound-bite world, and Congress does not have the courage to do what needs to be done.

Or they might not get re-elected.

But Congress needs to step up.

Krugman, courtesy the New York Times:

The good news is that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, a k a the Obama stimulus plan, is working just about the way textbook macroeconomics said it would. But that’s also the bad news — because the same textbook analysis says that the stimulus was far too small given the scale of our economic problems. Unless something changes drastically, we’re looking at many years of high unemployment.

And the really bad news is that “centrists” in Congress aren’t able or willing to draw the obvious conclusion, which is that we need a lot more federal spending on job creation.

About that good news: not that long ago the U.S. economy was in free fall. Without the recovery act, the free fall would probably have continued, as unemployed workers slashed their spending, cash-strapped state and local governments engaged in mass layoffs, and more.

The stimulus didn’t completely eliminate these effects, but it was enough to break the vicious circle of economic decline. Aid to the unemployed and help for state and local governments were probably the most important factors. If you want to see the recovery act in action, visit a classroom: your local school probably would have had to fire a lot of teachers if the stimulus hadn’t been enacted.

And the free fall has ended. Last week’s G.D.P. report showed the economy growing again, at a better-than-expected annual rate of 3.5 percent. As Mark Zandi of Moody’s put it in recent testimony, “The stimulus is doing what it was supposed to do: short-circuit the recession and spur recovery.”

But it’s not doing enough.

We need legislators with the courage to do what must be done. We need our "super-wealthy" to realize that they MUST be part of the solution, that the only way America can survive as a nation is if they agree that it is GOOD if they are taxed more.

We need Republicans on board with this, and that means seeking the impossible. Republicans must admit that President Ronald Reagan was wrong: Government is not the problem. Government is the solution.

If Congress doesn’t get it, we will most certainly return to a Gilded Age. Even more than we are right now. Right now, we need more stimulus money, "But can we afford to do more? We can’t afford not to," Krugman says.

Again, from Paul Krugman:

Deficit hawks like to complain that today’s young people will end up having to pay higher taxes to service the debt we’re running up right now. But anyone who really cared about the prospects of young Americans would be pushing for much more job creation, since the burden of high unemployment falls disproportionately on young workers — and those who enter the work force in years of high unemployment suffer permanent career damage, never catching up with those who graduated in better times.

Even the claim that we’ll have to pay for stimulus spending now with higher taxes later is mostly wrong. Spending more on recovery will lead to a stronger economy, both now and in the future — and a stronger economy means more government revenue. Stimulus spending probably doesn’t pay for itself, but its true cost, even in a narrow fiscal sense, is only a fraction of the headline number.

O.K., I know I’m being impractical: major economic programs can’t pass Congress without the support of relatively conservative Democrats, and these Democrats have been telling reporters that they have lost their appetite for stimulus.

But I hope their stomachs start rumbling soon. We now know that stimulus works, but we aren’t doing nearly enough of it. For the sake of today’s unemployed, and for the sake of the nation’s future, we need to do much more.

We need to do more now. Congress needs to find the courage to do it, and Republicans and Blue Dog Dems need to get it. Our nation’s economy will continue to regress and fall until they all get it.

President Obama Remembers Ryan White: Ends HIV Entry Ban

Do you remember Ryan White? Do you remember this young man who died, publicly, of HIV-AIDS?

I think of him from time to time, this brilliant young man who was "done too soon," who endured years of hatred, years of insults — because he got sick.

I remember, years ago, picking my son up from school on a spring afternoon. I was listening to WLS in Chicago (never a good idea these days), and I heard a caller condemn Ryan White to the depths of Hell. The caller was convinced, and argued, that this young man got what he deserved, that if he himself hadn’t sinned in his lifetime, then God must have killed him because one of his ancestors must have sinned horribly.

Yes, that was the argument.

Today, President Obama remembered Ryan White in a big way.

From White House blog:

Today, President Obama signed the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Treatment Extension Act of 2009. It represents our ongoing commitment to ensuring access to needed HIV/AIDS care and treatment. The White House and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) worked very closely with Congress on this bipartisan legislation, and the consensus document developed by the HIV/AIDS advocacy community was an important part of the process. We were so pleased that Jeanne White-Ginder, Ryan White’s mother, was here at the bill signing.

The Ryan White Program is the largest federal program specifically dedicated to providing HIV care and treatment. It funds heavily impacted metropolitan areas, states, and local community-based organizations to provide life-saving medical care, medications, and support services to more than half a million people each year: the uninsured and underinsured, racial and ethnic minorities, people of all ages.

The President also announced today the elimination of the HIV entry ban. Since 1987, HIV-positive travelers and immigrants have been banned from entering or traveling through the United States without a special waiver. In July 2008, Congress removed all legislative barriers to repealing the ban and paved the way for HHS to repeal the ban. A final rule will be published in the Federal Register on Monday, November 2nd and will take effect in early January 2010. That means that people who have HIV and are not U.S. citizens will be able to enter the U.S. starting in January next year. This is a major step in ending the stigma associated with HIV.

And the sad thing is, would Ryan White have died in 1990 — theoretically — if the Reagan Administration had given medical science the funding to find the cause of and fight AIDS instead of segregating it as a gay disease? Would an anonymous thug have come along and kicked over Ryan’s headstone if Reagan had been slightly more enlightened?

Yes, we still have to ask those questions. It could all happen again. We still have plenty of people in our society who are seemingly at war with science.

I’m starting to like this Obama as President of the United States.

However, this isn’t about President Obama.

This is about a young man who was gone too soon.

Peace, Ryan. We remember you still.

Ryan White

D.C. Catholic Church Goes to War Against Gays

I’ll let Change.Org cover this one.

From Michael Jones:

Archbishop Wuerl wants D.C. to put the question of same-sex marriage on a ballot, so that voters can decide whether gays and lesbians ought to have equal rights. There’s some of that good-ole religious compassion for ya’. According to Wuerl, only straight people getting hitched can provide the type of loving relationships that keep families and children stable.

To that, here’s a big cry of bullshit. Why? Because as Massachusetts has shown in their state, gay marriage has simply no detrimental impact on marriage or the family. In fact, five years after Massachusetts legalized same-sex marriage, the state has some of the lowest divorce rates. And by low, we mean as low as they were 80 freakin’ years ago.

You’d think the Church would stop for a moment and recognize that. Or you’d think the Church would look up from it’s navel and see that in Washington, D.C., one out of three children live in poverty; the District has some of the highest HIV/AIDS rates in the country; or that high school graduation rates in some areas of Washington stagger around the 55-60 percent mark. Surely those issues have to be more important that whether gays and lesbians have the right to marry, right?

Not if your faith runs as hollow as Archbishop Wuerl’s.

For the life of me, I don’t know why Wuerl is making this move, except to remind Rome that he’s still there, and still does not have the Red Hat.  I have a friend who knew Don Wuerl many, many years ago.  Back when Don Wuerl was Cardinal John Wright’s fair-haired boy.  He says Wuerl’s middle initial might just as well be “A” for “Ambition.”  Wuerl wants to be a Cardinal.  And maybe Pope.  That’s all he wants.

This attack against our LGBT friends is nothing more than an attempt to draw attention to himself, nudge the pope to make him a Cardinal.

This is not about Wuerl’s opposition to homosexuality.  This is about Archbishop Wuerl making a career move.  The ultimate career move Wuerl has been hoping for his entire life.

And he will succeed.

One of his predecessors in Pittsburgh did something equally inane.  In the 1980s, Bishop Bevilacqua came up with the brilliant notion that women should not have their feet washed in church on Holy Thursday.  I’ll not go into the absurd reasoning he used, but it was really silly.

Bevilacqua was eventually rewarded with the Red Hat, and he eventually became Cardinal Archbishop of Philadelphia.

The next year, Pittsburgh went back to permitting women to have their feet washed on Holy Thursday.

Look, Don Wuerl wants to be a Cardinal in the Catholic Church.  That’s all he’s ever wanted.  He’ll cry tears of joy when he finaly gets the Red Hat.

And our LGBT friends will have his shoe-prints on their faces.

Someone Tell Mike Huckabee to Shut the Hell Up

Mike Huckabee is only the latest inglorious ultra-conservative to exploit the death of Senator Ted Kennedy, claiming that Kennedy would have been urged to die earlier under ObamaCare.

Win at all costs.  Is that it, Mike? Just another hater waiting to dance on the Senators grave?

From Sam Stein at the Huffington Post:

Conservative media figures are blasting Democrats for trying to draw political gain from the death of Senator Ted Kennedy. But on Thursday, it was one of their own — former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee — who went there.

The 2008 Republican presidential candidate suggested during his radio show, “The Huckabee Report,” on Thursday that, under President Obama’s health care plan, Kennedy would have been told to “go home to take pain pills and die” during his last year of life.

“[I]t was President Obama himself who suggested that seniors who don’t have as long to live might want to consider just taking a pain pill instead of getting an expensive operation to cure them,” said Huckabee. “Yet when Sen. Kennedy was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer at 77, did he give up on life and go home to take pain pills and die? Of course not. He freely did what most of us would do. He choose an expensive operation and painful follow up treatments. He saw his work as vitally important and so he fought for every minute he could stay on this earth doing it. He would be a very fortunate man if his heroic last few months were what future generations remember him most for.”

As it happens, Huckabee made his remarks shortly after he derided Democrats for using Kennedy’s death to make the pitch that “Congress must hurry and pass the health care reform bill and do it in his memory,”

“That not only defies good taste,” said Huckabee, “it defies logic.”

Huckabee defies logic. And ethics. And good taste.

For more and an audio clip, go here.