September 14th, 2011

The Gang
  • acmeeoy

The meaning of political rituals like 9/11 Day

On 9/11 Day, Paul Krugman provoked a wave of petulant, angry condemnation for pointing out just some of the valid reasons that day is now inextricably linked with the shameful acts done in its name by the U.S.  Though I continuously defended Krugman on Twitter, I had no intention of writing about this pseudo-controversy because it was little more than what Digby describes as a standard formulaic "hissy fit" from right-wing warmongers who long ago ceased having the power to stigmatize people for such heresies (the apex of this absurd spectacle occurred when the man widely admired around the world as The Nation's Moral Conscience -- Donald Rumsfeld -- announced that he was cancelling his subscription to The New York Times in protest of Krugman's "repugnant" post).

But then yesterday, I read what is one of the most self-evidently inane posts the Internet has ever produced: this must-be-read-to-be-believed sermon from Mother Jones' Rick Ungar condemning Krugman and demanding that other progressives join with him and the Right in these denunciations.  Just for sheer entertainment, I really encourage you to read the whole thing; my favorite part is when Ungar decrees that 9/11 Day is "a day when Americans of all stripes should have been giving thanks to both President Bush and President Obama for doing whatever it is they do that has protected us from a tragic repeat of the events of September 11, 2001."  On so many levels, that's just the funniest sentence ever (and we now bow our heads in reverent gratitude toward our Leaders, George Bush and Barack Obama, and solemnly thank them for doing whatever it is they do  -- no matter what that might be -- to Keep Us Safe).

But there is a point raised by Ungar's finger-wagging that I do actually think is worth addressing.  He writes that while he agrees with the substance of Krugman's criticism, it was his timing that was so offensive, because 9/11 Day "was decidedly not a day that needed to be about politics."  This notion -- that 9/11 Day was nothing more than an apolitical grieving ceremony, akin to a private funeral, and Krugman's sin was one of etiquette: it just wasn't the day for politics -- is a common one.  But it's completely wrong, and quite destructive to accept.

More at Source.

Kidney Donor Mom Losses Job After Saving Son's life

Kidney Donor Mom Put Back On Salary

The rage inducing story that started this fuckery

Fox 29 first brought you the story of a Philadelphia mom who lost her job after giving a kidney to her son. On Tuesday, Claudia Rendon’s boss says the decision was a mistake, and the company will start paying her: with a catch.

Rendon did what almost any mother would do. When her son's kidneys failed, she gave him one of her own.

Rendon told our Claudia Gomez that she had used her vacation time to care for her terminally ill mother, and then had to take a leave to help her son with the kidney donation.

"Any parent in the world would do that for your son. If they say your son needs your heart, you would give it to them in a second, rip it out,” she said. “I don't care, I’ll do it as long as my son lives."

Rendon needed time to recover from the surgery, so she took a leave of absence from her job at the Aviation Institute Of Maintenance.

When doctors cleared her to return to work last week, her boss, Kyle Berry, told her he had filled her job.
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source w/ video
MISC - moustache

FBI at home of former top aide to Gov. Walker

Madison - About a dozen law enforcement officers, including FBI agents, visited the home of a former top aide to Gov. Scott Walker on Wednesday morning.

The home on Dunning St. on Madison's east side is listed in City of Madison property records as belonging to Cynthia A. Archer, the former deputy administration secretary to the Republican governor.

"We're doing a law enforcement action," one of the FBI agents told a reporter.

He didn't identify himself or provide further comment but confirmed that he and three others were with the FBI and that sheriff's deputies were also involved.

One of the agents had a large camera and two of them were wearing latex gloves. They spent time in the backyard and then went into the house. One also removed a large banker's box and put it in the truck of a car.

Dale Riechers, a neighbor, said one agent who interviewed him was from the FBI's Milwaukee office.

Neighbors said about a dozen law enforcement officers arrived sometime before 7 a.m. They left at around 10 a.m.

No one at the home answered the door.

Archer didn't immediately return a message left on her personal phone or an email sent to her personal account. Walker spokesman Cullen Werwie also had no immediate comment.

Elise Schaffer, a spokeswoman for the Dane County Sheriff's Department, said she didn't believe deputies from her office were involved.

Archer, who abruptly left her top post with the Walker's administration last month for "personal family matters," had another politically appointed job under the governor already lined up.

She took a $25,000 pay cut in moving to a position at the Department of Children and Families, but the nearly $100,000 salary in that job is still tens of thousands of dollars more than the pay of others who have had the job.

State officials have said Archer remained on leave. Department spokeswoman Stephanie Hayden has not answered whether Archer was being paid while on leave, saying that was confidential.

Archer, 52, followed Walker to Madison from Milwaukee County after the former county executive won the governor's race in November. She had held the county's top staff position under Walker.

Before she abruptly quit on Aug. 19, she was making $124,000 as deputy secretary in the state Department of Administration, the agency that oversees state contracts, the state budget, the state workforce and other key government functions. At the time, state officials said only that Archer had taken a personal leave of absence, giving no details on reasons for the leave, how soon she'd come back or what her duties would be.

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...because it is pathetic

Ron Paul’s Campaign Manager Died of Pneumonia, Penniless and Uninsured

At CNN's Tea Party-indulging debate on Monday, Ron Paul, a medical doctor, faced a pointed line of questioning from Wolf Blitzer regarding the case of an uninsured young man who suddenly found himself in dire need of intensive health care.

Should the state pay his bills? Paul responded, "That's what freedom is all about: taking your own risks. This whole idea that you have to take care of everybody—"

He never quite finished that point, letting the audience's loud applause finish it for him. So Blitzer pressed on, asking if he meant that "society should just let him die," which earned a chilling round of approving hoots from the crowd. Paul would not concede that much outright, instead responding with a personal anecdote, the upshot being that in such a case, it was up to churches to care for the dying young man. So basically, yeah. He'd let him die.

As it turns out, Paul was not speaking purely in hypotheticals. Back in 2008, Kent Snyder — Paul's former campaign chairman — died of complications from pneumonia. Like the man in Blitzer's example, the 49-year-old Snyder (pictured) was relatively young and seemingly healthy* when the illness struck. He was also uninsured. When he died on June 26, 2008, two weeks after Paul withdrew his first bid for the presidency, his hospital costs amounted to $400,000. The bill was handed to Snyder's surviving mother (pictured, left), who was incapable of paying. Friends launched a website to solicit donations.

According to the Wall Street Journal's 2008 story on his death, Snyder was more than just a strategic ally: He was the only reason Paul thought he ever had a shot at the presidency in the first place.

"It was Kent more than anyone else who encouraged and pushed Ron to run for president," said Jesse Benton, a spokesman for Mr. Paul. "Ron would not have run for the presidency if it had not been for Kent. Ron was really hesitant, but Kent drove him forward."

And so, what started in February 2007 with one laptop in Snyder's Arlington, Va., apartment, quickly grew into a $35 million campaign employing 250 people. In the fourth quarter of that year, Snyder raised a stunning $19.5 million for Paul — more than any other Republican candidate had raised at the time.

After Snyder's death, Paul posted a message to the website for his Campaign for Liberty — a pre-Tea Party organization which served Paul as both presidential marketing tool and platform to promote his non-interventionist, free market ideals.

He wrote:

"Like so many in our movement, Kent sacrificed much for the cause of liberty. Kent poured every ounce of his being into our fight for freedom. He will always hold a place in my heart and in the hearts of my family."

And that, friends, is what freedom is really all about.

*The Kansas City Star quoted his sister at the time as saying that a "a pre-existing condition made the premiums too expensive."


I present to you: The American Dream, in all its glory.
be quiet

Is NY-9 about marriage?

As I wrote about the question of Israel in New York's 9th district, the polling suggests that the crucial issues here are the big ones: Dissatisfaction with Obama and with America's direction.

That said, other questions are certainly in play. People who work in New York's Orthodox Jewish politics say that David Weprin's support for same-sex marriage has been a major issue in the district, whose Orthodox Jews aren't the closely-knit Chasids who don't care much about which outsiders marry one another, but more traditional social conservative voters.

And on that theme, a dueling pair of memos just arrived in my inbox, each making rather absolutist claims on the issue. Here they are:

From the National Organization for Marriage:
Another reason why David Weprin is hurting today is because of his vote earlier this year to legalize same-sex marriage. Ethnic and racial minorities are breaking with Dems on this issue and now it may cost them a usually safe seat in Queens. Even Queens Assemblyman Dov Hikind crossed party lines to endorse Republican Bob Turner because of Weprin's same-sex marriage vote, and a Public Policy Polling poll indicates that voters in NY-9 oppose same-sex marriage 45%-41%.

The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) invested $75k in mailers in NY-9 late last week; Rabbi Zechariah Wallerstein recorded robocalls yesterday on NOM’s behalf; and NOM has been quoted in various publications regarding their strong influence in this race....

“Marriage is an issue that is not going away,” said Brian Brown, NOM’s president. “When you have voters who have been betrayed by their elected officials on an issue as important as marriage, the impact on the election cycle is a big one.”

Reply the gay groups Human Rights Campaign and Freedom to Marry:

It’s not surprising that virulently anti-gay groups like the National Organization for Marriage are arguing that the freedom to marry has played some sort of noteworthy role in the Weprin-Turner race for New York’s Ninth Congressional District. Whoever wins tonight, marriage equality did not play an influential, even modest, role in the outcome of this special election. What people are focused on are jobs, jobs, and more jobs.

They write that the issue doesn't show up in polling, that Republican Bob Turner has downplayed the issue, and that Anthony Weiner was an outspoken advocate for same-sex marriage.

It seems to me fair to suggest that the issue helped on the margins, and in a close race, margins matter.

UPDATE: The issue does actually show up in polling: 29% identified it to PPP as important.


Great, as if I wasn't pissed off enough already...
this  is  so  ....  typical

Spending Inequity in Colleges Has Risen

As income inequality has increased in the United States over the last decade, so too has the gap between rich and poor colleges and universities.

Between 1999 and 2009, private research universities that enroll about 1.1 million students increased their education-related spending per student by about $7,500, to almost $36,000. But in that same period, education-related spending stayed nearly flat, at slightly more than $10,000 per student, at the public community colleges that enroll 6.7 million students, according to a report, “Trends in College Spending,” being released Wednesday.

“The growing gap between the haves and the have-nots has become much more exaggerated over the last 10 years,” said Jane Wellman, executive director of the Delta Project on Postsecondary Education Costs, Productivity and Accountability, the Washington, research group issuing the report.

While tuition has risen at public and private institutions alike, the inequality between the two sectors has grown, as the public colleges’ increased tuition revenues have not been nearly enough to make up for their loss of state and local appropriations.

Just from 2008 to 2009, the latest year for which data is available, community colleges’ net tuition increased $113, but their per-student spending declined by $254, mostly because of shrinking state and local financing. In that year, appropriations to community colleges nationwide fell an average $488 per student. At public research universities, which enroll 4.1 million students, net tuition increased by $369 — but appropriations declined by $751 per student, and spending per student increased only $92.

“If you’re trying to explain to a parent where the money’s going, it’s going into a big hole,” Ms. Wellman said. “Tuition increases are making up for less than half, on average, of what institutions lost in state funds.”

At private institutions, from 2008 to 2009, both tuition and spending have been rising. Private research universities’ per-student spending increased by $907, and private liberal arts colleges’ $298, while their net tuition increased $293 and $381, respectively.

Ms. Wellman said she did not expect any quick turnaround in state financing for public higher education.

Experts in higher education say it is difficult to imagine the nation’s returning to its former position of having the best-educated work force as long as the community colleges that educate the largest share of the population are the worst-financed sector.

“While it’s always been that way, in the last decade, like everything else, it’s been pushed to extremes,” said Patrick M. Callan, president of the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education. “Higher education is more stratified than it’s ever been.”

The Delta Project report did find some good news. Over the last decade, there has been an increase in the share of enrolled students who complete degree and certificate program, and a decline in the number of credit hours they amass in doing so, compressing the cost of their credentials.

“There’s higher degree productivity across the board, but particularly in public institutions,” Ms. Wellman said.


Government Pays More in Contracts, Study Finds

WASHINGTON — Despite a widespread belief that contracting out services to the private sector saves the federal government money, a new study suggests just the opposite — that the government actually pays more when it farms out work.

The study found that in 33 of 35 occupations, the government actually paid billions of dollars more to hire contractors than it would have cost government employees to perform comparable services. On average, the study found that contractors charged the federal government more than twice the amount it pays federal workers.

The study was conducted by the Project on Government Oversight, a nonprofit Washington group. The federal government spends about $320 billion a year on contracts for services. The POGO study looked at a subset of those contracts.

The study comes after months of criticism, mostly by Republicans, about what they see as the high cost of salaries and benefits for federal workers. The House earlier this year passed a Republican budget plan that would freeze pay grade levels and eliminate raises for five years, and cut the government’s work force by 10 percent. Last year, President Obama announced a two-year salary freeze for federal workers, which Republicans said did not go far enough.

The Heritage Foundation, a conservative research group in Washington, released a report last year that found that federal employees earn 22 percent more in hourly wages than the private sector. The Heritage study also found that if federal employee compensation were adjusted to match that of their private sector counterparts, federal spending would be reduced by $47 billion in 2011 alone.

But POGO said its study did not just compare the salaries of the two sectors; instead it focused on what the government actually pays contractors to perform services versus how much it would cost to have that work done by in-house staff members.

“That’s a big difference,” said Scott Amey, POGO’s general counsel. “We compared the full compensation paid to federal government and private sector employees to the billable rates in federal service contracts. Across the board you see that it cost government more to pay for contractors.”

For example, the study found that, on average, the federal government paid contractors $268,653 per year for computer engineering services, while government workers in the same occupation made $136,456.

For human resources management, the federal government paid contractors an annual rate of $228,488, more than twice the $111,711 to have the same services done in-house.

The Office of Personnel Management, which administers the federal work force, did not respond to questions about the study, but in the past it has criticized reports that say federal workers are overpaid.

Mr. Amey said the study was limited because it looked only at General Services Administration schedule, or previously negotiated, contracts, which are unfinanced five-year contracts listing the fees the federal government has agreed to pay for outside commercial products and services. Financing occurs when an order is placed and signed by a federal agency. Mr. Amey said schedule contracts were also the only ones that had salaries and benefits information included.

“Part of the problem with doing studies like this is the lack of data about what the government pays contractors,” he said. “While this study is limited to a subset of government contracts, it’s the only area where you have information.”

James Sherk, a policy analyst with the Heritage Foundation and the author of the federal salary study, said he was skeptical of the POGO findings. “It’s not a real apples to apples comparison,” he said. “When the federal government hires contractors, it’s for the short-term. When they hire for the public sector, they are on the hook for the salaries and compensation for years.”

Mr. Amey counters that the government usually pays contractors for multiple-year jobs, not just short term.

Paul C. Light, a professor at New York University who has studied the contractor work force, said he found the POGO study interesting. “Contracting out to the private sector is often oversold as the answer to better services, better performance and better cost,” Mr. Light said. “But doing this type of analysis shows that it’s not the case.”

Murasaki Shikibu
  • homasse

Lubavitch school says no black Jews

Lubavitch school says no black Jews

"We don't take in Ethiopian children. We don't think you match our lifestyle and we're not sure about your Jewishness either." This is what five young girls of Ethiopian descent were told when they arrived with their parents at the "Or Chaya" school in Petah Tikva.

The girls were slated to begin the school year at the "Ner Etzion" school, which only had students of Ethiopian descent. The school was closed at the instruction of Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar, following the parents' protest, and the five students were directed by the municipality to the "Or Chaya" school, which belongs to the Chabad movement.

The girls arrived at the institution accompanied by their parents, and were met by a person at the gate who took them aside and informed them that the school was not interested in taking in Ethiopian students.

The girls were forced to return shamefacedly to the municipality. The Education Department staff called the school and was surprised to receive the same answer: "You're welcome to lead us to the gallows. This has never happened and will never happen," a school official said.

The Petah Tikva Municipality filed a complaint with the Education Ministry against the school, and Minister Sa'ar instructed the ministry's director-general to summon the school principal, Nechama Dina Deitch for a hearing.
"We won’t tolerate these behavior toward children of Ethiopian descent," Petah Tikva Municipality spokesman Hezy Hakak said Wednesday.

In the meantime, a week after the start of the school year, the five students are still sitting at home.
"They looked at her as if she were a monkey," said Molko Wanda, the father of a girl who was slated to begin the second grade at the "Or Chaya" school. "Do you know what it means telling a seven-year-old girl that she's not wanted for being black?"

Moshe Ashgara, the father of another girl, feels helpless too. "My daughter is a diligent student. Why won't they take her?"

Sixty-six of the "Ner Etzion" students have yet to be absorbed in an alternative educational institution. The municipality promised that a place would be found for all children within the next few days, and that a school refusing to take in students of Ethiopian descent would be punished.

The principal of "Or Chaya" school was unavailable for comment.

The Secret Lives of Poor People: They are Filthy Rich!!

Look at the Poor People Driving their Limousines and Buying their Caviar with Government Food Stamps!

With Record Number Of Americans Falling Into Poverty, Rand Paul Says The Poor Are Getting Rich

Census data revealed today that a record 46.2 million Americans were living in poverty in 2010. But in an aptly-timed hearing entitled “Is Poverty A Death Sentence,” Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) flat out rejected the idea that poverty in the U.S is worrisome. As the Ranking Member of the Senate Health subcommittee, Paul offered a dissertation-length statement on how the correlation between poverty and death is only found in the Third World and to claim such a connection within the U.S. is nothing more than “socialism” and “tyranny.”

Stating that “poor children today are healthier than middle-class adults a generation ago,” he even blamed the poor for their own health problems, suggesting “behavioral factors” like a higher incidence of smoking, obesity, or weak family support structures as the only correlation between poverty and health.

Citing the deficit as a primary priority, Paul questioned whether federal low-income programs are “creating unnecessary and unhealthy dependence on government.” He unequivocally declared that “poverty is not a state of permanence” and that “the rich are getting richer, but the poor are getting richer even faster.”

PAUL: We also need to understand that poverty is not a state of permanence. When you look at people in the bottom 5th of the economic ladder — those at the bottom — only 5 percent are there after 16 years. People move up, the American dream does exist…The rich are getting richer, but the poor are getting richer even faster.

Watch it:

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Murasaki Shikibu
  • homasse

Mother sues over cop killing her 14-year-old son.

Mom Says Prickly School Cop Killed Her Son

A 14-year-old boy got into a fight at a school bus stop and the school district's police officer responded by shooting him to death, the boy's mother says. She says the cop had been reprimanded 16 times in the previous 4 years, suspended without pay 5 times, and "recommended for termination for insubordination," but the school kept him on the force "without remedial training."

Denys Lopez Moreno sued the Northside Independent School District, of San Antonio, the district's Chief of Police John Page and the alleged shooter, Daniel Alvarado, in Federal Court.

Lopez says her son, Derek, got into a fight with another boy at a school bus stop and punched the other boy once, in November 2010.

"Defendant, Alvarado, having responded to a call regarding a bus with a flat tire, witnessed Derek strike the other boy. He ordered Derek to 'freeze.' Derek hesitated and then ran from defendant Alvarado," according to the complaint.

"In his patrol car, Alvarado began chasing Derek in the neighborhood across the street from the high school. Alvarado lost sight of the boy in the neighborhood and returned to the location of the school boy fight. At that time, he called dispatch. Dispatch recordings reflect that his supervisor directed Alvarado to stay with the other boy and to 'not do any big search over there.'

"Ignoring his supervisor's orders to 'stay with the victim and get the information from him,' Alvarado placed the second boy into the patrol car and sped into the neighborhood to search for Derek."

Lopez says her son jumped over a fence and hid in a shed in the back yard of a house. The homeowner saw him, called 911, and alerted a neighbor, who pointed Alvarado in Derek's direction. Lopez says her son never left the shed, never approached the house or threatened the homeowner or her daughters, and posed no threat to anyone.

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other - resin

Australia's Fair Pay commission to investigate CoS and Sea Org

Church of Scientology facing back-pay claims
The Church of Scientology is facing the prospect of back-pay claims that on some estimates could run into millions of dollars.

In March last year the ABC's Four Corners broadcast a program containing allegations of mistreatment and exploitation of some of the church's most loyal members.

The next day, the Fair Work ombudsman started an investigation into the church.

ABC's Lateline has obtained a draft copy of that investigation's report, which contains allegations of false imprisonment and forced labour.

"The allegations ... may potentially be a breach of the provisions of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (cth) dealing with slavery," the draft report says.

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The original Four Corners story can be watched here. If that doesn't work, it's also on Youtube.
Shirley Animated

What in Lucifer's reach.

Sarah Palin snorted cocaine off 55 gallon oil drum and had affairs with NBA star and husband's business partner: Sensational claims in new book

Sarah Palin snorted cocaine off a 55 gallon oil drum while snowmobiling with friends and had illicit affairs with a top NBA star and one of her husband's business partners, a new book sensationally claims.

In revelations which could strike a devastating blow to the controversial politician's hopes of joining the 2012 presidential race, Mrs Palin is said to have taken the class A drug with her husband, while smoking marijuana at college in secret liaisons with one of her professors.

Joe McGinniss's book The Rogue: Searching for the Real Sarah Palin, which is due to be published on September 20, also alleges that the former governor of Alaska is far from the traditional family woman she claims to be.

Mrs Palin, 47, had a one-night stand with Miami Heat basketball star Glen Rice less than a year before she eloped with her husband, the book claims.

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Source is the Daily Fail. Be warned.

PLO official: Palestinian state to be free of Jews

Commenting on the subject of minority rights in the potential Palestinian state, PLO envoy to the U.S. says past experience shows the two people should 'be separated.'

The future independent Palestinian state will not include a Jewish minority, a top Palestinian official told USA Today on Wednesday, adding that it was in the best interest of both peoples to "be separated."

Maen Areikat, PLO Ambassador to the United States, made the comment just as the Palestinian Authority, led by President Mahmoud Abbas, was preparing to offer up Palestinian statehood to a vote in the United Nations General Assembly later this month.

Answering questions on minority rights in a future state, Areikat was quoted by USA Today as saying on the possibility of a Jewish minority: "After the experience of the last 44 years of military occupation and all the conflict and friction, I think it would be in the best interest of the two people to be separated."

Former U.S. National Security Council official Elliot Abrams responded to the Palestinian official's comment, saying to USA Today that the Palestinian demand was "a despicable form of anti-Semitism," adding: "No civilized country would act this way."

The administration of U.S. President Barack Obama had been openly opposing the planned Palestinian statehood bid at the United Nations, arguing that a unilateral recognition of Palestinian independence would severely injure attempts at a comprehensive peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians.

Speaking in an interview on Tuesday, Obama indicated that Washington did not feel "think that it would actually lead to the outcome that we want, which is a two-state solution."

Last week, the State Department said the U.S. would veto a resolution for Palestinian statehood in the council, but Obama had yet to comment directly on the matter.

"What we've said is that going to the UN is a distraction, does not solve the problem," he said. "This issue is only going to be resolved by Israelis and Palestinians agreeing to something."
Eye See Tony

10 Myths About Atheists, Bebunked

In a regular poll conducted by political scientists Robert Putnam and David Campbell on American political attitudes, atheists recently lost their spot as as the most disliked group in America to the Tea Party. Still, number two is simply way too high in the unpopularity rankings for a group of people who just happen to spend Sunday mornings in bed instead of in church. Polling data shows that nearly half of Americans would disapprove if their child married an atheist and nearly 40 percent of Americans don’t see atheists as sharing their vision of American society, numbers that outstripped similar prejudices toward Muslims and African Americans.

Of course, the real reason atheists are so hated has little to do with jealousy for all their free time, but largely because most Americans are better acquainted with myths than with the realities of atheists' lives. Unfortunately, atheists often have these myths tossed in their faces, usually by believers who would rather talk about what they heard atheists are like rather than uncomfortable subjects such as the lack of proof for any gods.

These myths do more than hurt atheists. They also harm the basic religious freedoms of all Americans, regardless of their beliefs. Religious freedom and tolerance don’t mean much if they can’t be expanded to include those without religion. With that in mind, here’s 10 of the ugliest myths about atheists, debunked:

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Amanda Marcotte co-writes the blog Pandagon. She is the author of It's a Jungle Out There: The Feminist Survival Guide to Politically Inhospitable Environments.


OP Note: Is it just me, or do the 3rd and 4th myths show up a fair bit on this comm?