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Profile Information

Gender: Do not display
Hometown: WV
Member since: Thu Jan 15, 2015, 01:37 AM
Number of posts: 5,817

About Me

Ancestral WV hillbilly & old-style liberal who believes in US Constitution & detests RW revisionism of its principles (esp Establishment Clause)

Journal Archives

Infants create new knowledge while sleeping

There is no rest for a baby's brain -- not even in sleep. While infants sleep they are reprocessing what they have learned. Researchers have discovered that babies of the age from nine to 16 months remember the names of objects better if they had a short nap.


Research about unique male/female cardinal revealed

A biological sciences professor is receiving attention for his research and publication on a bilateral gynandromorph bird found in the wild. More specifically, the bird has the brownish-gray feathered appearance of a female cardinal on its right side and that of a male cardinal's red feathers on its left side.



If you haven't seen pix of this bird, check it out. Wild!

Baleen whales hear through their bones

Understanding how baleen whales hear has posed a great mystery to marine
mammal researchers. Biologists reveal that the skulls of at least some
baleen whales, specifically fin whales in their study, have acoustic
properties that capture the energy of low frequencies and direct it to
their ear bones.



Hate group AFA only pretends to fire Fischer

Saw on RMS (Maddow) last night that while Bryan Fischer is 'fired' from American Family Assoc, he's still their paid anchor in their radio show. RNC says it's glad AFA has 'severed the relationship' -- even tho they obviously haven't.

That Repubs even want to admit AFA exists since GOP is so fond of the extreme RW leaders of Israel while AFA is devoutly anti-Semitic. Their goal is to convert Jews because - End Times.

They even showed disdain for Romney at a Rick Perry rally by saying Perry was "a genuine follower of Christ" -- "Mormonism is a cult."

So are Repub candidates going to seek AFA support, attend their rallies? Sure. RNC's leadership, incld Priebus, is traveling to Israel w/ this hate group who doesn't think Jews don't have the right to practice their religion in the US.

Hate, bigotry, and religious extremism are apparently quite welcome attitudes for Republicans.


'CAT scan' of nearby supernova remnant reveals frothy interior

(no, nothing to do w/ Rick Santorum)

Cassiopeia A, or Cas A for short, is one of the most well studied supernova remnants in our galaxy. But it still holds major surprises. Astronomers have now generated a new 3-D map of its interior using the astronomical equivalent of a CAT scan. They found that the Cas A supernova remnant is composed of a collection of about a half dozen massive cavities -- or 'bubbles.'



Biologists used world’s largest single-celled organism to study nature of structure, form in plants

Biologists used the world’s largest single-celled organism, an aquatic alga called Caulerpa taxifolia, to study the nature of structure and form in plants. It is a single cell that can grow to a length of six to twelve inches.



Privacy challenges: Just four vague pieces of info can identify you, and your credit card

Just four fairly vague pieces of information -- the dates and locations of four purchases -- are enough to identify 90 percent of the people in a data set recording three months of credit-card transactions by 1.1 million users. If someone had copies of just three of your recent receipts -- or one receipt, one Instagram photo of you having coffee with friends, and one tweet about the phone you just bought -- would have a 94 percent chance of extracting your credit card records from those of a million other people. This is true, the researchers say, even in cases where no one in the data set is identified by name, address, credit card number, or anything else that we typically think of as personal information.



Complex environments push 'brain' evolution

Little animations trying to master a computer game are teaching neuroscience researchers how the brain evolves when faced with difficult tasks. Neuroscientists have programmed animated critters that they call 'animats.' The critters have a rudimentary neural system made of eight nodes: two sensors, two motors, and four internal computers that coordinate sensation, movement and memory.



Religious Land Use Appeal Looks to 'Hobby Lobby'


A federal appeals court on Monday will hear arguments for the first time on how to apply recent U.S. Supreme Court precedent to a federal statute that protects religious groups from unconstitutionally restrictive land-use regulations.

The case, before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, partly hinges on the Burwell v. Hobby Lobby decision in June, in which the Supreme Court found that the federal government violated the Religious Freedom Restoration Act by requiring the retailer to provide health insurance coverage for contraceptives under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

The current case was brought by a Christian church that was denied a permit from city officials in Ventura, Calif., to feed the homeless on its property. The church asserts that the city’s actions violated the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, or RLUIPA, which prohibits zoning laws from imposing on religious practices without using “the least restrictive means of furthering a compelling governmental interest.” The city, however, has maintained its actions amounted to the need for public safety given an increase in crime in the area.

The church’s attorney, Lisa Freeman, an associate at Los Angeles-based Horvitz & Levy, has turned to Burwell v. Hobby Lobby to argue that denying the permit was a substantial burden on her client’s exercise of religion.

And in a decision closer to current case, she cited the Jan. 20 Supreme Court ruling in Holt v. Hobbs, in which the court concluded that Arkansas prison officials had violated RLUIPA when they refused to allow a Muslim inmate to grow a half-inch beard.

“This was very fortuitous timing for us because these are arguments we’re making in this case, and now we have a unanimous Supreme Court decision reaffirming the breadth of the federal law,” Freeman said.

Ira Lupu, a constitutional law professor at George Washington University Law School who focuses on religious rights, said both cases, in which religious interests prevailed over the government’s, could make it much harder for city officials to succeed before the Ninth Circuit.

“Those two decisions are quite firm in their language about how to read those statutes, and so some of the wiggle room the lower courts were playing with before has been removed or narrowed,” he said.

Thomas Brown, a partner in Burke, Williams & Sorensen’s Oakland office who represents city officials in the case, did not return a call for comment.

Harbor Missionary Church had been offering food, laundry and access to its showers to the homeless since 2008. In 2013, city officials in Ventura demanded that the church obtain a conditional use permit. When it applied, they denied its request.

The church, represented by Stanford Law School’s Religious Liberty Clinic, filed its suit on May 14, alleging violations of the RLUIPA and the First Amendment. It sought injunctive relief to lift the city’s ban so that it could continue to provide its homeless services.

After initially granting a temporary restraining order, U.S. District Judge Manuel Real of the Central District of California rejected the preliminary injunction on July 9. In a July 18 order, he concluded that city officials, who had provided declarations from 60 of the church’s neighbors, had a compelling governmental interest in curbing rising crime they attributed to its homeless program.

In a Sept. 8 brief on appeal, Brown noted that the church refused to consider alternatives, including relocating its homeless program from its current building, which is next to a daycare and a school.

But Freeman said city officials have failed to show they used the “least restrictive means to further their compelling interest.”

“One of the big arguments on this appeal is to the extent the city has concerns about crime, it can use its police force to address those concerns,” she said. “They argue that they don’t have that obligation, and if they did provide extra police that would be subsidizing the church’s religious practice. Hobby Lobby and Holt say that that’s not so.”

But in a Jan. 26 letter Brown disagreed, noting also that Holt dealt with the prisoner portion of RLUIPA—which protects the religious practices of institutionalized individuals—not the land-use side.

“Neither Holt nor Hobby Lobby describes when a government must incur expenses to ‘avoid imposing a substantial burden,’ ” he wrote. “And no court has held that RLUIPA requires government to subsidize religious exercise by financing measures to mitigate the impacts of a church’s irresponsible land use.”

Marci Hamilton, chairwoman of public law at Yeshiva University Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law and a leading church/state scholar who is following the case, agreed. She also said that unlike previous examples when churches have successfully litigated their religious rights to feed the homeless, city officials in this case presented facts and the testimonies of police officers that crime had increased.

“It’s one thing for the local government to say as a general matter this kind of entity might increase crime,” she said. “It’s another thing to have the actual statistics that show that when this entered the district that’s in conjunction with residential homes there was an actual impact on crime. Those are facts on the city’s side.”

Eric Rassbach, deputy general counsel of The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, a public interest organization that advocates for religious groups in the courts, predicted that RLUIPA’s land-use portion could end up before the Supreme Court— perhaps even in this case.

“It will be interesting to see how courts of appeals dealing with religious land use apply Holt v. Hobbs to that situation because it is the same statue, but it’s a different part,” he said.


In Oklahoma, abortion can only be discussed as a negative

"Edmond Santa Fe High School officials confirmed Tuesday several biology teachers at the school gave their students a ‘non graded exercise’ – a discussion starter – on human genetic disorders,” reports local news channel KFor.com. “’You’ve found out that the child you (or your wife) carries has the gene for dwarfism. A new therapy exists that may repair this gene before the child is born. What do you do?’ the first question on the exercise asks. A. Allow the child to be born with the gene, and we will accept the child as is. B. Attempt the new therapy to repair the gene. C. Terminate Pregnancy.’”

According to the teachers, the goal of the quiz was to sort students into groups based on their answers so that they could discuss medical ethics. Parents, however, were unhappy that the topic came up at all. “Teachers did not try to impose their abortion beliefs on students,” administrators told the news station.  “They were studying genetic mapping and wanted to encourage critical thinking.”

Unfortunately, not a lot of discussion was to be had, because many of the students didn’t answer the question. The reason why? They were afraid of the reactions they would get from other students if their beliefs on abortion didn’t conform with their fellow students. One anonymously told reports that “reputations can be ruined by talking about their stance on abortion.”

Why are students afraid of their peers finding out their beliefs when it comes to abortion, even in something as non-threatening as a classroom exercise on medical ethics and genetics? Because abortion and even basic sex education has been so ostracized from a regular high school curriculum that just the vague mention of it has students believing that something inappropriate is being talked about.

Obviously, though, it isn’t abortion itself that can’t be in the classrooms, but any mention that it can ever potentially not be something offensive or sinful. Across the country, growing numbers of high schools are seeing “pro-life” student groups being established, or students who have been encouraged to participate in Day of Silence, to bring in pro-life cupcakes, or wear their pro-life shirts.

In most of these communities, abortion discussion is more than welcome in their schools. The key is, it can only be done with one intention — to condemn the practice and never, under any circumstances, allow a scenario in which terminating a pregnancy could in fact be a legitimate option.

Due to this one-sided stance, it’s not just scenarios for learning like this medical ethics situation where students suffer. It’s the same mindset that started a battle in Arizona, where an honor’s biology textbook was almost ripped into pieces in order to protect students from two pages in the text that mentioned that abortion is a medical procedure that ends a pregnancy, and that contraception is a device or medication that stops a pregnancy from occurring in the first place.

Under the guise of “parental control” and “protecting children,” abortion opponents have managed to oust sex ed and honest talk about reproduction and pregnancy, while at the same time approving one-sided abstinence only classes and promoting “pro-life” student groups. No wonder students not only have no idea how to prevent pregnancy, they are terrified to even express an opinion when it comes to abortion itself, even if a teacher asks for it as an assignment. Parents may somehow believe they are protecting their offspring, but in reality, they are only ensuring an ignorance that puts them more at risk for unwanted pregnancy, and instilling a fear and shame into them when it happens, that won’t just effect whether they carry to term or not, but the care they receive in either circumstance.

They may claim they are helping children, but in reality, they are helping no one.

Care2 Causes
"'Ethics' Quiz Shows How Abortion Can Only Be Discussed in Schools If It’s Done Negatively"

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