#0059 RRS Newsletter for September 23, 2007
For the rest of the month I will be posting on a regular three a week schedule, I may continue this trend next month, we'll see how it goes. So on every Sunday, Wednesday, and Friday the newest editions will be up. Some of you may have noticed the counters at the bottom recently, with that I've been keeping track of how many and what days readers have been loging in to read the newsletter, and the aforementioned days seem to be the most popular, counts on Friday and Sunday being especially high. However, the reason for the newly placed regularity is two-fold. The other reason is to better manage my time, since I will be going on vacation from the 27th to the 5th, and there is much to do in the interum in preparation. In the time I will be gone, there will be no newsletter posts (I'm sure you can all manage, lol) so I encourage you all to browse through the previous editions, as I'm sure there are many of you who haven't seen them all. While I'm gone, any questions, contributions, or comments you have will be fielded by my good friend and helper Adrian (a.k.a. Skeptictank, a.k.a. Freudian slip n' slide). Regulars to the chat room are probably familiar with him already.
Table of ContentsClick on a title to view the article.
We have been called. Capn Awesome has declared Atheist Jihad!
2. As part of Operation Spread Eagle we want our community to respond to more youtube vids, outlining the problems with theistic arguments. Look for videos that are responses to ours on Youtube, and send your counter response. We rarely engage community debate on youtube, we want you in on this. Not only are we addressing censorship, but we'll take this opportunity to address the huge holes in religion. During this time Operation Spread Eagle will be bringing press to our site, and they should see just how crazy and radical we are... we actually want better for humanity! Sue us.
3. Setting forth yet again that theism is a mind disorder! When Sapient asked a few questions on youtube, he never expected for everyone to dodge the questions and attack only one. By attacking only the question about theistic delusional disorder, some people illustrated their possession of this disorder. We will not back down now. We now hold that almost all theists have Grandiose Delusional Disorder and that theism itself should be listed in future versions of the DSM. And each time that someone with this disorder whines about our tactics, we will remind them with another video why in fact all forms of theism have some form of delusion embedded within them.
Welcome to the new Rational Response Squad... special shout outs to CSE Ministries who made this backlash possible.
"I want you to be 100 times angrier than you are now, I think the anger is great. The squeeky wheel gets the grease, and you're getting the grease" - Ellen Johnson of American Atheists on Brian Sapient
"Yeah, I've been negatively impacted...it pisses me off that you guys are way toooo polite." - Entomophilia after Sapient asked if we should address more haters.
Yet again we got critiqued today for needing money to exist on this planet. Just to spite those that try to diminish our worth by claiming the obvious about us (we need money to live) please send huge gigantic massive chunks of money through this link. (have no fear, none of the electronic money has that load of horseshit "In God We Trust" on it) Yeah, we're pissed, and you should be too. Religion needs to go.
"The time has come for people of reason to say: Enough is Enough! Religious faith discourages independent thought, it's divisive and it's dangerous." - Richard Dawkins
Minor Skirmishes in Operation Spread Eagle and Atheist Jihad:
Bill O'Reilly proves theism is dangerous, and that you should run from all theists because they are irrational, and they'll hurt you and everyone around you! It's just a matter of when, not if. It's the most true thing that he can ever tell you!!
Sablechicken goes down for the count.
The entire Way of the Masterbaters crew hits the floor.
The only post you ever need to read about Frank Walton, and the only 2 blogs (Frank Walton, Frank Walton) you ever need to read about him.
Kathy Griffin: http://suckitjesus.com/
Some arabs are pissed off about subtitles!
RRS MI, No meeting this month...
Due to the fact that two of the leading members of the Michigan chapter will be on vacation on the day that we usually hold our monthly meeting, we will not be conducting it this month. Next month we will resume the schedule as normal, and hopefully by then we can have more to report on the Creation Museum project. In the meantime, I encourage you all to go to the Meetup.com website and register for the Atheist meetup group in your area. The group listed for my area, Detroit area Atheists, meets on a day that I usually work, so I am hoping to make our presence know through my friend and helper (minion) Adrian, at least once in a while.
Mystery illness strikes after meteorite hits Peruvian village
LIMA (AFP) - Villagers in southern Peru were struck by a mysterious illness after a meteorite made a fiery crash to Earth in their area, regional authorities said Monday.
Around midday Saturday, villagers were startled by an explosion and a fireball that many were convinced was an airplane crashing near their remote village, located in the high Andes department of Puno in the Desaguadero region, near the border with Bolivia.
Residents complained of headaches and vomiting brought on by a "strange odor," local health department official Jorge Lopez told Peruvian radio RPP.
Seven policemen who went to check on the reports also became ill and had to be given oxygen before being hospitalized, Lopez said.
Rescue teams and experts were dispatched to the scene, where the meteorite left a 100-foot-wide (30-meter-wide) and 20-foot-deep (six-meter-deep) crater, said local official Marco Limache.
"Boiling water started coming out of the crater and particles of rock and cinders were found nearby. Residents are very concerned," he said.
Velociraptor Had Feathers
Science Daily — A new look at some old bones have shown that velociraptor, the dinosaur made famous in the movie Jurassic Park, had feathers. The discovery was made by paleontologists at the American Museum of Natural History and the Field Museum of Natural History.
Scientists have known for years that many dinosaurs had feathers. Now the presence of feathers has been documented in velociraptor, one of the most iconic of dinosaurs and a close relative of birds.
The fossil specimen that the group examined was a velociraptor forearm unearthed in Mongolia in 1998. They found on it clear indications of quill knobs--places where the quills of secondary feathers, the flight or wing feathers of modern birds, were anchored to the bone with ligaments. Quill knobs are also found in many living bird species and are most evident in birds that are strong flyers. Those that primarily soar or that have lost the ability to fly entirely, however, were shown in the study to typically lack signs of quill knobs.
"A lack of quill knobs does not necessarily mean that a dinosaur did not have feathers," said Alan Turner, lead author on the study and a graduate student of paleontology at the American Museum of Natural History and at Columbia University in New York. "Finding quill knobs on velociraptor, though, means that it definitely had feathers. This is something we'd long suspected, but no one had been able to prove."
Previous signs of feathers on dinosaurs had been restricted to fossils found in a particular kind of lake sediment that favored preservation of small-bodied animals.
The velociraptor in the current study stood about three feet tall, was about five feet long, and weighed about 30 pounds. Combined with its relatively short forelimbs compared to a modern bird, this indicated it lacked volant, or flight, abilities. The authors suggest that perhaps an ancestor of velociraptor lost the ability to fly, but retained its feathers. In velociraptor, the feathers may have been useful for display, to shield nests, for temperature control, or to help it maneuver while running.
"The more that we learn about these animals the more we find that there is basically no difference between birds and their closely related dinosaur ancestors like velociraptor," said Mark Norell, a Curator in the Division of Paleontology at the American Museum of Natural History and co-author on the study. "Both have wishbones, brooded their nests, possess hollow bones, and were covered in feathers. If animals like velociraptor were alive today our first impression would be that they were just very unusual looking birds".
The research team also included Peter Makovicky from the Field Museum in Chicago. The work was supported by the National Science Foundation and the American Museum of Natural History.
This research appears in the Sept. 21 issue of the journal Science.
Note: This story has been adapted from a news release issued by American Museum of Natural History.
Early Star Formation In The Universe Illuminated
Science Daily — A groundbreaking study has provided new insight into the way the first stars were formed at the start of the Universe, some 13 billion years ago.
Cosmologists from Durham University, publishing their results in the journal, Science, suggest that the formation of the first stars depends crucially on the nature of 'dark matter', the strange material that makes up most of the mass in the universe.
The discovery takes scientists a step further to determining the nature of dark matter, which remains a mystery since it was first discovered more than 70 years ago. It also suggests that some of the very first stars that ever formed can still be found in the Milky Way galaxy today.
Early structure formation in the Universe involves interaction between elusive particles known as 'dark matter'. Even though little is known about their nature, evidence for the presence of dark matter is overwhelming, from observations of galaxies, to clusters of galaxies, to the Universe as a whole.
After the Big Bang, the universe was mostly 'smooth', with just small ripples in the matter density. These ripples grew larger due to the gravitational forces acting on the dark matter particles contained in them. Eventually, gas was pulled into the forming structures, leading to the formation of the very first stars, about 100 million years after the Big Bang.
For their research, the team from Durham University's Institute for Computational Cosmology carried out sophisticated computer simulations of the formation of these early stars with accepted scientific models of so-called 'cold' as well as 'warm' dark matter.
The computer model found that for slow moving 'cold dark matter' particles, the first stars formed in isolation, with just a single, larger mass star forming per developing spherical dark matter concentration.
In contrast, for faster-moving 'warm dark matter', a large number of stars of differing sizes formed at the same time in a big burst of star formation. The bursts occurred in long and thin filaments.
One of the researchers, Dr Liang Gao, who receives funding from the UK's Science and Technologies Facilities Council, said: "These filaments would have been around 9000 light years long, which is about a quarter of the size of the Milky Way galaxy today. The very luminous star burst would have lit-up the dark universe in spectacular fashion."
Stars forming in the cold dark matter are massive. The larger a star is, the shorter its life span, so these larger mass stars would not have survived until today. However the warm dark matter model predicts the formation of low mass stars as well as larger ones and the scientists say the low mass stars would survive until today.
The research paves the way for observational studies which could bring scientists closer to finding out more about the nature of dark matter. Co-researcher, Dr Tom Theuns, said: "A key question that astronomers often ask is 'where are the descendants of the first stars today"' The answer is that, if the dark matter is warm, some of these primordial stars should be lurking around our galaxy."
The Durham University scientists also give new insights into the way that black holes could be formed. Most galaxies harbour in their centres monster black holes, some with masses more than a billion times the mass of the sun.
The team hypothesises that collisions between stars in the dense filament in the warm dark matter scenario lead to the formation of the seeds for such black holes.
Dr Theuns added: "Our results raise the exciting prospect of learning about the nature of dark matter from studying the oldest stars. Another tell-tale sign could be the gigantic black holes that live in centres of galaxies like the Milky Way. They could have formed during the collapse of the first filaments in a universe dominated by warm dark matter."
Note: This story has been adapted from a news release issued by Durham University.
Why Are Some Groups Of Animals So Diverse?
Science Daily — A new study of finger-sized Australian lizards sheds light on one of the most striking yet largely unexplained patterns in nature: why is it that some groups of animals have evolved into hundreds, even thousands of species, while other groups include only a few?
The study takes a look at Australia's most diverse group of vertebrates--more than 252 species of lizards called skinks. Researchers at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology have found evidence that the "drying up" of Australia over the past 20 million years triggered this explosive diversification.
Lead author Dan Rabosky, a Cornell graduate student, spent many months in the remote Australian outback, trapping skinks as they skittered from one prickly clump of grass to another. By documenting where the various skink species occur and using their DNA to define their evolutionary tree, he found that the groups with the most species are the ones that live in the driest parts of Australia. "There's something about colonizing the desert that caused these skinks to diversify at an incredibly high rate," says Rabosky.
An unusual finding of this study is that these skinks upend the usual pattern of species diversity found in other parts of the world. "We typically think of lush tropical rainforests as being the world's major centers of diversity," says coauthor Irby Lovette, director of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's Fuller Evolutionary Biology Program. "With the skinks, just the opposite has happened: the rainforest skinks in Australia have much lower diversity, and a lot of the evolutionary 'action' in this system is taking place in the deserts."
Over the last 20 million years, most of Australia changed from humid and tropical to bone-dry desert. "Living in the desert is stressful for animals that are adapted for wetter habitats," says Rabosky. "But somewhere in the distant past, a few skinks developed the ability to survive in their increasingly arid world." It is the descendents of these few early desert colonists that evolved into amazingly large numbers of skink species.
"Australian skinks are really fascinating," Rabosky says. "Two groups in particular have gone evolutionarily crazy, each splitting into as many as 100 different species. In contrast to skinks on other continents, and even some other groups in Australia, the diversity of these particular groups has really exploded."
Rabosky's study included skinks with spots, skinks with stripes, skinks with four legs, or two--or none. Rabosky says there are at least 252 species of these lizards living Down Under, and probably many more that remain to be discovered.
The evolution of these skinks mirrors that of many groups of organisms--from grasses, to beetles, to humans and our relatives--in which some groups have spectacular diversity and others a paucity of species. "For me as a scientist," says Rabosky, "one of the great things about skinks is that there are just so darn many species, making the patterns in their diversity really clear."
This research was published in the September 19 online edition of the Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
Note: This story has been adapted from a news release issued by Cornell University.
Bill Maher on Jesus Camp
Because I think it needs to be reiterated.
Phone Debate with Kent Hovind
DAVIS FLEETWOOD ON BUSH, BIN LADEN & MENU CATHOLICS
Bin Laden urges Pakistanis to rebelBy LEE KEATH, Associated Press Writer Thu Sep 20, 4:35 PM ET
CAIRO, Egypt - Osama bin Laden called on Pakistanis to wage holy war on their president Thursday, saying in a new recording that it was their religious duty to overthrow Gen. Pervez Musharraf for his alliance with the U.S. against Islamic militants.
The message was the third from bin Laden this month after a long lull, coming in a flurry of al-Qaida propaganda marking the anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks on the United States.
Joining in, bin Laden's chief deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri, issued a video Thursday seeking to galvanize Islamic fighters from North Africa to Afghanistan.
Al-Zawahri, who is seen by some counterterrorism experts to be al-Qaida's operational chief rather than bin Laden, said the United States is losing wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.
"What they claim to be the strongest power in the history of mankind is today being defeated in front of the Muslim vanguards of jihad (holy war) six years after the two raids on New York and Washington," he said.
The string of video and audio messages around the anniversary has shown an increased sense of triumphalism in al-Qaida's tone at a time when U.S. intelligence reports say its core leadership appears to have regrouped in the Afghan-Pakistani border region.
"You can actually see the increase in the number of videos tie in with recent U.S. assessments that al-Qaida is resurgent, that it is much stronger," said Michael Jacobson, a former FBI terrorism expert now at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
"They're feeling more stable, feeling much more secure, so it's not a surprise that they're able to put out more videos," he added.
Many of the messages have hammered on U.S. struggles in Iraq to push the claim that Islamic militants are winning, and bin Laden's video against Musharraf signaled that al-Qaida wants to turn its guns on one of the United States' most important allies in fighting the terror network.
Al-Zawahri and another top al-Qaida figure, Abu Yahia al-Libi, already called for Pakistanis to rise up against Musharraf in recent messages. But the tape from bin Laden, al-Qaida's most symbolic and charismatic figure, adds weight to the declaration of jihad against the Pakistani leader.
In a 23-minute video showing previously released footage of bin Laden, the al-Qaida leader's voice delivered a call to jihad in Arabic with English subtitles, but the message also was released in versions dubbed in Urdu and Pashtu — languages widely used in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Bin Laden branded Musharraf an infidel because of the siege of the Red Mosque, a militant stronghold in the Pakistani capital overrun by commandos in July. The battle killed more than 100 people, including one of the militants' leaders, Abdul Rashid Ghazi.
The siege "demonstrated Musharraf's insistence on continuing his loyalty, submissiveness and aid to America against the Muslims," bin Laden said. "It is obligatory on the Muslims in Pakistan to carry out jihad and fighting to remove Pervez, his government, his army and those who help him."
In the recording, titled "Come to Jihad," bin Laden quoted fatwas, or religious edicts, from hard-line Islamic scholars on the duty of Muslims to overthrow infidel rulers.
Anyone "who believes that the strength required to rebel has not yet been completed must complete it and take up arms against Pervez and his army without procrastination," he said.
The message comes at a delicate time for Musharraf, who has been targeted by four assassination attempts since 2002.
His popularity has plummeted in recent months as he seeks a new presidential term in an Oct. 6 vote by Pakistani lawmakers. Under popular pressure, his aides announced that Musharraf would quit as army chief and restore civilian rule if elected to a new five-year term.
The mosque siege also brought a wave of violence and suicide attacks in Pakistan blamed on Taliban and al-Qaida militants, intensifying the discontent of religious conservatives over Musharraf's alliance with the United States.
In Islamabad, the Pakistan army spokesman, Maj. Gen. Waheed Arshad, said "such threats issued through videos or in any other way cannot deter us from fulfilling our national duty" to "eradicate terrorism."
State Department spokesman Tom Casey said the message was "not surprising" because bin Laden's sees that Pakistan has been a strong ally to the U.S. "in the fight against his kind of extremism."
Before this month, bin Laden had not issued a message in more than a year. A video released a few days before the Sept. 11 anniversary contained the first new images of him in nearly three years.
The other video released Thursday showed off al-Qaida's increasing media sophistication. It amounted to an 80-minute documentary interweaving al-Zawahri's speech with footage from the Sept. 11 attacks, interviews with experts and officials taken from Western and Arab television and old footage and audiotapes of bin Laden.
Al-Zawahri is believed to play a large role in directing al-Qaida's strategy on the ground, and in his frequent videos the Egyptian militant often lays down the network's doctrinal line.
In the new video, he seemed to be playing both roles, speaking in front of shelves lined with Islamic books, an automatic rifle leaning against the shelves.
Al-Zawahri railed against Islamic clerics who don't advocate holy war and spoke about progress in numerous fronts of jihad — including Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Chechnya and North Africa.
He called for jihad in North Africa to "cleanse (it) of the children of France and Spain." And he urged more fighting in Sudan to drive out a planned U.N.-African Union peacekeeping force in the Darfur region, where Arab militiamen have been accused of committing atrocities against ethnic African communities.
The video showed scenes of al-Qaida's leader in Afghanistan, Mustafa Abu al-Yazeed, meeting with a senior Taliban commander. In contrast to past videos that showed al-Qaida and Taliban fighters in desert terrain, Abu al-Yazeed and the commander sat in a verdant field surrounded by trees as a jihad anthem played, extolling the virgins that will meet martyrs in paradise.
On the video, Abu al-Yazeed said al-Qaida's ties with the Taliban were strengthening. The Taliban commander, Dadullah Mansoor, vowed to "target the infidels in Afghanistan and outside Afghanistan" and to "focus our attacks, Allah willing, on the coalition forces in Afghanistan."
Associated Press writers Lily Hindy in New York and Zarar Khan in Islamabad, Pakistan, contributed to this report.
Sarkozy wants tougher Iran sanctionsBy ANGELA CHARLTON, Associated Press Writer
PARIS - French President Nicolas Sarkozy accused Iran directly of seeking nuclear weapons Thursday and suggested tougher sanctions against the Mideast nation.
Sarkozy, who has toughened the French position on Iran since taking office in May, called the possibility of an Iranian bomb "unacceptable."
Sarkozy was expected to discuss sanctions with other world leaders at the U.N. General Assembly next week.
If current sanctions are not sufficient, Sarkozy said, "I want stronger sanctions," he said in a televised interview. But he insisted that France does not want to see tensions lead to war.
The United States and other world powers suspect Tehran of seeking nuclear weapons, while Tehran insists it only wants nuclear technology to produce electricity. Two rounds of U.N. sanctions have failed to end the deadlock.
"It's a very difficult matter, but France does not want war," Sarkozy said. He said negotiations with Iran were still possible.
Sarkozy, known for his frank manner, dispensed with diplomatic niceties when referring to Iran's nuclear activities.
"Iran is trying to acquire a nuclear bomb. I say to the French, 'It's unacceptable,'" Sarkozy said.
"How can we convince (the Iranians) to renounce this project as the international community has convinced North Korea and Libya? Through discussion, dialogue, sanctions," he said.
Sarkozy stepped back slightly from comments by Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner on Sunday that the world should "prepare for the worst" in Iran, specifically "war." Amid criticism, Kouchner later softened that, insisting he just wanted to underline the gravity of the Iranian nuclear problem.
"I would not have used the word 'war,'" Sarkozy said Thursday.
Kouchner, in a speech in Washington Thursday, expanded on the recommendation by Sarkozy for tightening sanctions.
"An Iran with a military nuclear capability is, for us, an unacceptable prospect," he said, speaking in English. "If sanctions without dialogue can only lead to confrontation, dialogue without sanctions is unfortunately tantamount to weakness."
Meanwhile, U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad said that the U.S. expects agreement in the next few weeks on a resolution for new sanctions.
He said the U.S. hopes to prepare the groundwork for the new resolution at a meeting in Washington on Friday of political directors from six key nations that have been trying to negotiate with Iran — the U.S., Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany — and at a follow-up ministerial meeting in New York next Friday.
"I expect the issue to be transferred to New York, to the Security Council, in the next several weeks," Khalilzad said in an interview with three reporters. "We expect that we would ... get an agreement in the next few weeks. That's our expectation. That's what we're working towards."
The U.S., and key allies France and Britain, face an uphill struggle, however, in winning Security Council approval because Russia said this week it opposed additional sanctions and China has called for more diplomacy rather than new punitive measures. Both Russia and China have veto power in the council.
Current U.N. sanctions call on all countries to stop supplying Iran with nuclear-related technology and freeze assets of many people and groups related to the program. Iranian arms exports are banned.
Iran has responded to the sanctions by expanding enrichment.
Khalilzad refused to discuss the new sanctions, saying only that they should pressure those in the nuclear program and leadership to comply with the council.
According to a senior U.S. official, the new measures would require all nations to inspect cargo en route to or from Iran and freeze assets of a number of Iranian banks. The official was interviewed this summer on condition of anonymity because the negotiations are still underway.
French officials this week floated plans for European sanctions against Iran beyond existing U.N. measures, which the Foreign Ministry called "insufficient."
Sarkozy's spokesman, David Martinon, said earlier Thursday that France wants European companies to be told not to seek new markets and to reduce their investments in Iran.
Martinon said such measures were being considered because it could take time for the U.N. Security Council to agree on tougher sanctions.
"They are recommendations which we hope each European Union state would address to their companies which are present or which envisage having a presence in Iran," he said at a news briefing.
Under the proposal, European companies would be asked to "at least not pitch for new markets in Iran," and financial institutions recommended to reduce their investments there, he said.
Associated Press writers Edith M. Lederer at the United Nations and John Leicester in Paris contributed to this report.
U.S. commander: Iran supplying TalibanBy BRIAN MURPHY, Associated Press Writer
KABUL, Afghanistan - A top American commander on Friday accused Iran of supplying powerful roadside bombs to militants in Afghanistan and said the U.S. would "act decisively" if the cross-border flow continues.
Heavy battles in the violence-plagued south, meanwhile, killed 75 Taliban and at least six civilians, and a suicide car bomb in the capital killed a French soldier and an Afghan bystander.
Adm. William Fallon, the head of U.S. Central Command, said Iran's Revolutionary Guard is supplying roadside bomb parts for the type of sophisticated and deadly bombs found in Iraq known as explosively formed penetrators.
"The Iranians are clearly supplying some amount of lethal aid," Fallon told The Associated Press during a trip to Afghanistan. "There is no doubt ... that agents from Iran are involved in aiding the insurgency."
Fallon said the U.S. was carefully watching the flow of weapons from Iran and said the U.S. would "act decisively" if the cross-border flow continues. His comments were not meant as a threat of military action against Iran but a suggestion that border interdiction efforts may need to be increased, Fallon's aides said later.
Iran has denied that it is supplying arms to fighters in Afghanistan.
Fallon said Iran is also providing development assistance in western Afghanistan, which he labeled as helpful, and said its activities inside its eastern neighbor are meant to ensure that Iran has a role in the region's politics.
"And I think they put a priority on causing us as much frustration as they can," he said. "I think it's all aimed at embarrassing us and one of their long-standing aims is getting us out of the region."
NATO's International Security Assistance Force has said that three shipments of weapons emanating from Iran have been intercepted in Afghanistan since April. The latest was discovered in the western province of Farah on Sept. 6.
NATO's top commander here, U.S. Gen. Dan McNeill, told The Washington Post in a story published Friday that the Sept. 6 shipment likely was sent into Afghanistan with the knowledge of Iran's Republican Guard and possibly the Quds Force, the country's elite covert military arm.
U.S. military leaders have long said that Iran is supplying weapons to militants in Iraq that are used against U.S. forces there.
Afghanistan has seen its heaviest fighting this year since the ouster of Taliban regime in 2001. More than 4,400 people have died in insurgency-related violence around the country, according to an Associated Press count based on official figures.
Friday's bomb attack in western Kabul was directed against a convoy of French troops traveling in armored vehicles. It killed one soldier and an Afghan civilian and wounded many other Afghans, hospital and NATO officials said. The blast blew the windows out of a civilian bus and set at least one vehicle on fire.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy condemned the attack as "cowardly and odious."
"More than ever, I remain determined to pursue the fight against terrorism," he said.
Heavy fighting in the south, meanwhile, killed about 75 Taliban militants in the last 48 hours, the U.S.-led coalition said.
On Wednesday, NATO launched a new operation in Helmand province, the world's largest poppy-growing region, which has seen the heaviest fighting in Afghanistan this year.
Airstrikes were called in against "anti-coalition militants" in the Garmsir district early Friday, killing about 40 fighters, the coalition said. Soldiers found more than 20 rocket-propelled grenades, ammunition and land mines in the militants' compound, it said.
Six civilians, including women and children, died in a separate battle in Helmand province's Gereshk region on Wednesday after Taliban militants fled fighting with NATO forces and sought shelter in the civilians' homes, said Gereshk district chief Abdul Manaf Khan.
NATO said there were "a number" of civilian casualties caused by the fighting.
Taliban fighters attacked coalition forces from a housing compound that was later targeted in an airstrike. NATO said it was "unaware" civilians were in the area.
Civilians deaths from U.S. and NATO military action have become a major issue in Afghanistan this year. President Hamid Karzai has repeatedly pleaded with international forces to halt such casualties.
Afghan civilian deaths have declined since several incidents earlier in the summer. Wednesday's deaths appear to be the first since early August.
In another newly reported battle, more than three dozen Taliban fighters were reported killed in a clash Wednesday in Uruzgan province, the coalition said.
The spike in violence came as Afghans marked the U.N.-backed International Day of Peace on Friday. Marches and celebrations were held around the country, and U.N. spokesman Adrian Edwards called the numbers of Afghans participating "remarkable."
"I think there are two very different stories going on here. One is about peace, one is about conflict," he said. "We've never seen anything like this (interest level) before."
Atheist Blood Drive
In an attempt to show the world that atheists are every bit as charitable as the religious of society, and that we need no "divine warrent" to be so, the RRS has set up a daughter organization called Atheist Volunteers. We hope you will all chip in. The most prominent of it's projects is the Atheist Blood drive.
Atheists for Autism Research Charity!
Check these guys out, and donate if you can!
Religious Victims of the day
Minister urges suffocating flock to wait for Christ, resulting in thirty deaths"An evangelist minister urged his suffocating followers to stay with him in a church and 'feel the presence of the Lord' as toxic fumes took thirty lives, including his own...The three survivors (who had fled in time) described a macabre scene as the minister, identified as Ramon Almazan, urged people to stay calm as they began to choke on the fumes (from a faulty butane lamp) and vomit or faint. "Let Christ come in and stay with us, do not be afraid," he was quoted as saying as his own daughter slumped to the floor."
U.S. State Laws That discriminate against Non-Believers
U.S. State Laws That discriminate against Non-Believers
"No person who denies the being of a God shall hold any office in the civil departments of this State, nor be competent to testify as a witness in any court."
Article 19, sect. 1 of the 1874 constitution
"That as it is the duty of every man to worship God in such manner as he thinks most acceptable to Him, all persons are equally entitled to protection in their religious liberty... nor shall any person, otherwise competent, be deemed incompetent as a witness, or juror, on account of his religious belief; provided, he believes in the existence of God, and that under His dispensation such person will be held morally accountable for his acts, and be rewarded or punished therefore either in this world or in the world to come." Bill of Rights: Article 36
"As the happiness of a people, and the good order and preservation of civil government, essentially depend upon piety, religion and morality; and as these cannot be generally diffused through a community, but by the institution of the public worship of God, and of public instructions in piety, religion and morality: herefore, to promote their happiness and to secure the good order and preservation of their government, the people of this commonwealth have a right to invest their legislature with power to authorize and require, and the legislature shall, from time to time, authorize and require, the several towns, parishes, precincts, and other bodies politic, or religious societies, to make suitable provision, at their own expense, for the institution of the public worship of God, and for the support and maintenance of public Protestant teachers of piety, religion and morality, in all cases where such provision shall not be made voluntarily." Declaration of Rights: Article III
"The following persons shall be disqualified for office: First, any person who shall deny the being of Almighty God...." Constitution Article 6 Section 8
"No person who acknowledges the being of God and a future state of rewards and punishments shall, on account of his relifious sentiments, be disqualified to hold any office or place of trust or profit under this Commonwealth".
Declaration of Rights Article 1 Section 4
"No person shall be eligible to the office of Governor who denies the existence of the Supreme Being..."
Article 4 Section 2
"No person who denies the being of God, or a future state of rewards and punishments, shall hold any office in the civil department of this state." Bill of Rights: Article 9 Section 4
"No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office, or public trust, in this State; nor shall any one be excluded from holding office on account of his religious sentiments, provided he acknowledge the existence of a Supreme Being." Article 1 - Bill of Rights: Section 4
Thanks to LolaMSins and Edward Penton
information taken from religioustolerance.org
What the law says: (US) Public Schools
The following is an overview of current federal laws and regulations regarding religious expression in the public schools:
As representatives of the government, administrators and teachers must neither encourage nor prohibit students' religious activities.
Individual students and groups may informally pray, discuss religion, or read Scriptures on campus if such activities are neither disruptive nor coercive.
Student-run religious groups may meet on campus during non-class time, and publicize their events, on an equal basis with other noncurricular gatherings.
Schools may "teach about" religion, including the Bible, but "religious instruction" is restricted to private, "released time" classes off campus.
If academically relevant, students may express religious ideas in written, oral or art assignments.
Schools may "teach about" religious holidays and celebrate their "secular aspects," but must not observe them as "religious events."
School officials may not organize commencement prayers.
Students may distribute religious literature to schoolmates if other handouts are allowed.
If school dress codes allow private expressions, religious symbols or messages are permissible.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education guidelines as updated in 1998 and reissued in December.
Constitution of Australia
"The Commonwealth shall not make any law for establishing any religion, or for imposing any religious observance, or for prohibiting the free exercise of any religion, and no religious test shall be required as a qualification for any office or public trust under the Commonwealth." -- Section 116, from Menendez and Doerr, The Great Quotations on Religious Freedom
Constitution of Brazil, 1946
"Freedom of conscience and belief is inviolable, and the free exercise of religious sects is assured, as long as they are not contrary to public order or good morals. Religious associations shall acquire juridical personality according to civil law. No one shall be deprived of his rights by reason of religious, philosophic, or political convictions.... Without restraint of the ones favored, religious ministration to the Armed Forces shall be offered by a Brazilian...: cemeteries shall be secular in character and shall be administered by the municipal authority. All religious confessions shall be permitted to practice their rites therein. Religious associations may maintain private cemeteries, according to law.... Religious instruction shall be a part of the teaching schedule of public schools, matriculation therein shall be optional, and the instruction shall be provided in accordance with the religious confession of the pupil."
Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
Section 2: "Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms: freedom of conscience and religion; freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication; freedom of peaceful assembly; and freedom of association."
Constitution of Colombia, 1853
"[Guaranteed to all Colombians is] the free profession, public or private, of their religion, providing it does not disturb the public peace, offend pure morals, nor impede the exercise of any other religion." -- The first act of church-state separation in Latin America, the 1853 Constitution also barred forced contributions for the support of any religion. Quoted from Albert J. Menendez and Edd Doerr, The Great Quotations on Religious Freedom.
French Human Rights Declaration
Article 18: "Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance."
Article 19: "Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.."
Constitution of Greece
Article 13, Phrase 2: "There shall be freedom to practice any known religion; individuals shall be free to perform their rites of worship without hindrance and under the protection of the law. The performance of rites of worship must not prejudice public order or public morals. Proselytism is prohibited."
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Huge thanks go to everyone that has helped me out on this endeavor. Specifically, Zombie, head of RRS Ontario for multple article submissions, Voiderest of RRS Texas, my coding guru without whom many of the features of this newsletter (like the Table of Contents) would not be in place, Brian Sapient for his guiding hand and for the space in which this is published, and all of you who have contributed articles. Cheers go out to you all!!!
The darkness of godlessness lets wisdom shine.