Behold my magnificent and selfless sacrifice FOR SCIENCE: posting a survey link on my blog.

Full disclosure: I don’t have anything close to a scientific background. I majored in Theatre ferchrissakes, and graduated with my B.A. a few credits shy of a minor in Philosophy. Unfortunately I had crappy science teachers in high school, and as an undergrad I managed to dodge rigorous science classes by meeting my degree requirements with shit like Meteorology 101 and whatnot.

Years later however, I fell deeply and madly in love with the sciences in general, and with evolutionary biology in particular. (In the credit-where-credit-is-due department, that doucheweasel Dawkins’ books contributed in no small part to my intoxicating enlightenment; also, Neil Shubin’s Your Inner Fish remains one of my favorites reads of all time. Mind: blown.) So although I can spot a cumulonimbus cloud along with the best of ’em, during my formal education I missed out on so much cool science stuff (OMG astronomy! Geology! Marine biology!!!).

My worst regret about all of this is that I have contributed nothing of any significance to the truly amazing troves of knowledge humans have acquired via the scientific method.

Until now.

I am thrilled to announce that the Atheist Research Collaborative is conducting a survey study on how and why people become atheists. FreethoughtBlogs has been encouraged to publicize the survey to our readers, so I am posting about it in case participating in this research might be of interest to you godless heathens out there. From the researchers:

The study is open to those who are at least 18 years of age, and those who once believed in god(s) but do not now; this means you are not eligible to participate if you have always been an atheist/nonbeliever. The survey is a maximum of 76 questions, and a minimum of 64 questions.  On average, the survey should take 20 to 30 minutes to complete, although individuals may find that it takes them more or less time than this, depending on their answers. The survey can be found here.

Joseph Langston ARC Affiliate/Web Admin

Phew! Wow. Doing this science stuff sure is exhilarating – and exhausting! I had no idea.

Well I’m sure we can all agree that I’ve stepped up in a REALLY BIG WAY and done my part for SCIENCE. And that obviously I deserve at least a co-author credit on any published research that comes from this survey data. And of course the best part is this: “make major Nobel Prize-worthy scientific contribution” is now crossed off my bucket list.

What a great day.

:D

PETITION to UnitedHealthcare, Blue Cross Blue Shield, and Kaiser: cover birth control co-pays.

via UltraViolet:

Trump just announced he will take away free birth control from up to 55 million women, claiming it promotes “risky sexual behavior.”

How ’bout you worry about controlling your own sexual behavior, and I worry about mine.

Asshole.

Women use birth control for everything from calming menstrual cramps to family planning to managing crippling pain from endometriosis. In fact, sex becomes a lot riskier without access to birth control.

Gosh, ya think?

This is just the latest attempt by the Trump administration to pander to right wing extremists who want to sabotage women‘s health care.

FIFY. You’re welcome.

The good news is that we can still save free birth control for millions of women who need it. Insurance companies benefit from covering the co-pay–in part because birth control is vastly cheaper than childbirth or endometriosis treatment. Let’s make sure that every single health insurance company, starting with three of the biggest–UnitedHealthcare, Blue Cross Blue Shield, and Kaiser–hears from us right away.

Can you sign the petition and help pile the pressure onto insurers to continue to cover birth control?

__________

Under a capitalist healthcare system, rights and access are dependent on a profit motive. Not on what is moral and good and the right thing to do. Not on laws or constitutions. Certainly not on the best health care practices. So we must desperately appeal to the bottom line of a parasitic, profit-driven industry, one whose notorious and egregious abuses are legion, and which in any sane and just society would not even fucking exist.

But here we are. Please sign and signal boost the petition if you are willing and able.

THANK YOU.

I sure do love the smell of burning conservatives.

Well lookee here.

Rep. Tim Murphy resigns from Congress after allegedly asking woman to have abortion

Rep. Tim Murphy told House leaders on Thursday that he will resign from Congress this month, a day after the eight-term Pennsylvania Republican announced that he would not seek another term amid a personal scandal.

Personal scandal? Oh do tell…

The resignation of Murphy, a clinical psychologist, comes after a news report claimed that the married Republican had asked a woman with whom he had an extramarital affair to get an abortion.

Murphy is a member of the House Pro-Life Caucus and was a co-sponsor of a Republican bill approved Tuesday that bans most abortions after 20 weeks of fetal development.

Also: FUCK YOU CONSERVATIVES.

 

 

Whose pain matters?

Since there are currently no pressing problems facing our great nation, the US House of Reprehensibles has just passed HB 36, a national ban on abortions after 20-weeks. Charmingly entitled “The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act,” the legislation would force a pregnant patient who is carrying a fetus that is dead, dying, or incompatible with life to carry it to term and give birth, unless the patient is in grave danger of death or “substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function.”

According to reality, fetuses are not capable of feeling pain until at least 28 weeks. But since conservatives are highly allergic to reality, perhaps Your Liberal Media™ might helpfully report on this egregious tripe from another angle. Let’s say, just for the sake of argument, that a fetus is indeed capable of feeling pain at 20 weeks.

SO FUCKING WHAT?

You know what’s really painful? Giving birth. (So I’ve heard – I personally dodged that bullet thank Vishnu.) I would like my legislator to promptly propose a bill entitled The Pain-Capable Pregnant Person Protection Act, which provides free abortions on demand to anyone who wishes to avoid the pain of childbirth. The bill should have no problem passing in this congress, seeing how the majority is so concerned about sparing citizens from painful medical procedures.

F*CK YOUR THOUGHTS ‘N PRAYERS.

 

It’ll probably do fuck all because cowards gonna cow, but please sign and share this petition if you are willing and able (via CREDO* Action):

Emergency petition: Thoughts and prayers are not enough. We need gun control now.

Tell Republicans in Congress:

“It is time to put your constituents before the National Rifle Association. Reject currently pending legislation that would gut regulations on gun silencers and armor piercing bullets, block the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act, and take immediate action to ban weapons of war, including assault weapons and large capacity magazines, which have no place in the hands of private citizens.”

Sign the petition.

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Petition to Congress: Stop the militarization of local police.

Please sign and share this petition if you are willing and able (via CREDO* Action):

Donald Trump recently rewarded the country’s biggest police union for their endorsement of his dangerous, racist candidacy. He is going to give state and local police military-grade weapons of war.1

In 2014, police in combat gear driving mine-resistant tanks violently confronted people protesting the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. The national outrage and organizing, including from more than 100,000 CREDO members, helped force President Obama to dramatically scale back the 1033 program.

Recently, police in St. Louis in full riot gear were chanting “whose streets, our streets” as they violently confronted people protesting yet another not guilty verdict for another police killing of a Black man.3 But Trump, whose racist, xenophobic agenda depends on demonizing communities of color and unleashing law enforcement, wants to bring 1033 back in full force.

Fortunately, there is a bill that would stop Trump’s dangerous escalation and help keep weapons of war out of our communities, the Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act. The more of us who speak out, the more pressure on Congress to act.

Tell Congress: Pass the Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act and block Donald Trump’s attempt to militarize local police.

Police militarization contributes to the over-policing of communities of color and the erosion of trust between communities and police. When police departments are armed with military-grade weapons and trained to use military tactics, they are more likely to treat the people they are meant to serve as enemy combatants.4 In many communities, fully militarized SWAT teams routinely issue search warrants, terrorizing people in their homes and neighborhoods.5

Police militarization also undermines people’s right to peacefully and safely protest. The hyper-militarized and clearly disproportionate police response to largely peaceful protesters in Ferguson is far from the only example. In the summer of 2016, Baton Rouge, Louisiana police responded to peaceful protests of Alton Sterling’s murder as if they were going to war.6 Last fall in North Dakota, police in riot gear confronted peaceful Standing Rock protesters with armored vehicles, automatic rifles, sonic weapons, concussion grenades, pepper spray and beanbag bullets.7 Surveillance devices like the Stingray, which can secretly download cell data and disrupt cell service, are also part of the 1033 program.8

It is no surprise that Trump, who condoned white supremacist Nazi violence against peaceful protesters last month in Charlottesville, wants to further weaponize police, terrorize communities of color and stifle peaceful dissent to his hateful regime. That is why it is more important than ever to pass the Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act now. The bill would shut down the direct pipeline between the Department of Defense and police, ban the transfer of a long list of military equipment, require extensive documentation and reporting, and prohibit the militarization of departments under investigation for civil rights violations.9

Donald Trump’s extreme agenda has already emboldened law enforcement agents across the country, at the local, state and federal level. Making sure that his administration cannot arm police with weapons of war is a powerful way to fight back.

Can you add your name today to tell Congress to pass the Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act and block Donald Trump’s attempt to militarize local police?

Thank you for everything you do.

References:

  1. Tom Jackman, “Trump to restore program sending surplus military weapons, equipment to police,” The Washington Post, Aug. 27, 2017.

  2. Matt Apuzzo, “War Gear Flows to Police Departments,” The New York Times, June 8, 2014.

  3. Nicole D. Nelson, “When Will Black Lives Matter in St. Louis?” The New York Times, Sept. 20, 2017.

  4. ACLU Foundation, “War Comes Home: The Excessive Militarization of American Policing,” June 2014.

  5. ibid.

  6. Tess Owen, “Baton Rouge cops dressed for war to confront protesters,” Vice News, July 11, 2016.

  7. Standing Rock Special: Dallas Goldtooth on Police Violence & Repression of Movement Against DAPL,” Democracy Now, Nov. 24, 2016.

  8. Jeremy Scahill and Margot Williams, “Stingrays: A Secret Catalogue of Government Gear for Spying on Your Cellphone,” The Intercept, Dec. 17, 2015.

  9. H.R.1556 – Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act

__________
*CREDO is a lefty activist mobile telecom company: every month it allocates a portion of its revenue to various activist non-profits, as voted and allocated by its customers. CREDO is, for example, Planned Parenthood’s largest corporate donor. Please consider switching to CREDO as your mobile carrier, and stop supporting anti-democratic corporations that fund conservatives like AT&T. Yes it is true that CREDO runs on Verizon’s network and it’s also true that Verizon is a ginormous shitweasel, so some of CREDO’s revenue is indeed funding conservative shitweaselry. But compared to the telecom behemoths CREDO is a tiny company, and yet it still manages to donate $150-200k per month to well-vetted, worthwhile organizations.

Well played.

As I’ve mentioned, I loathe U.S. men’s sportsball with the burning intensity of ten thousand suns. #yesallmenssportsball. The reasons are legion, but a big one is the cloying stench of jingoist militarism that pervades the realm. And of course that is no accident: a 2015 Senate report released to little fanfare detailed U.S. military contracts worth millions of taxpayer dollars with pro sports teams for “paid-for patriotism,” from solemn “salutes to service” to flag-waving pageantry to ceremonies honoring hometown war heroes on the field. Worse still, the NFL alone receives about $1 billion a year in public subsidies to build and operate stadiums and other handouts, thereby enriching obscenely wealthy team owners at taxpayers expense.

Unlike other temporary expenditures on infrastructure or even businesses in which state and local governments might invest to ultimately benefit the public and/or their treasury’s bottom line,

[p]ublic handouts for modern professional football never end and are never repaid. In return, the NFL creates nothing of social value—while setting bad examples, despite its protests to the contrary, regarding concussions, painkiller misuse, weight gain, and cheating, among other issues.

Other issues indeed. Like, oh, say, sexual assault and domestic violence, for which career-ending consequences are virtually unheard of. But a player sitting out the national anthem to protest racism and police murdering people of color? GAME OVER.

Now I don’t know about you, but I always have to wonder: what does our Sexual-Assaulter-In-Chief think about all of this? Fortunately for inquiring minds like mine, he has not shut up about it since his Nazi-fest on Friday night.

Trump told the Republican rally that such actions “disrespect our heritage.”

“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, out, he’s fired. He’s fired,'” Trump said… He went on to encourage spectators to boycott games where national anthem protests take place.

He’s been completely obsessed with these anti-racist NFL protests for three days now, tweeting yesterday:

“If a player wants the privilege of making millions of dollars in the NFL, or other leagues, he or she should not be allowed to disrespect our Great American Flag (or Country) and should stand for the National Anthem,” Trump wrote. “If not, YOU’RE FIRED. Find something else to do!”

And this morning:

Can I tell you how much I looooove all of this? Because the backlash is just a beautiful fucking thing to behold. Ever since Commander Cheetohead started his fascist little crusade on Friday, NFL players, coaches and even team owners – who collectively contributed $7 million to Trump’s campaign and some of whom are his personal friends – have responded overwhelmingly, negatively and vociferously. Yesterday, the protests spread from the NFL to major league baseball when some d00d who plays for the Oakland As knelt during the national anthem. And this just came over my news feed, just as the Sunday games begin to get underway:

Dozens of players kneel, coaches link arms in solidarity as Trump asks NFL teams to ‘fire or suspend’ protesting players

SOMERSET, N.J. — As President Trump called for NFL owners to suspend or fire players who protested the national anthem, players and coaches answered defiantly Sunday morning, with most members of the Baltimore Ravens and Jacksonville Jaguars either standing with their arms locked in solidarity or taking a knee on the field.

Ravens Coach John Harbaugh joined his players, locking arms, and Jaguars owner Shahid Khan, a Pakistani American billionaire and businessman, joined his players before the game’s kickoff at 9:30 a.m. in London’s Wembley Stadium. Ravens Hall of Famer Ray Lewis also took a knee during the anthem.

Most members of both teams, the Ravens’ coach and the Jaguars’ OWNER. On an international stage, no less.

LOLOL!

Keep it up, Mr. President! Heckuva job! Now if we could just get you to piss yourself silly over all the sportsball players kneeling to protest domestic abuse and sexual violence against women, that would be super.

Oh wait. There aren’t any.

[edited because rage typo.]

Petition to St. Louis Mayor: Protect protesters, investigate cops.

[CONTENT NOTE: white supremacy, racist police violence (no images).]

Please sign and signal boost if you are willing and able. Thank you.

via Color of Change:

Police are out of control in St. Louis, and the Mayor has done nothing to stop them. Over the weekend of protests following the not-guilty verdict absolving Jason Stockley of accountability in the killing of Anthony Lamar Smith, police have taunted protesters saying Ferguson-era chants like “Whose streets? Our streets?”1–in the same manner of neo-nazi terrorists in Charlottesville2–and police even trampled over an older woman and pepper-sprayed the people who tried to help her.3

Mayor Lyda Krewson still has not condemned the rampant excessive force police are using to suppress the peaceful protesters she claims to support. After the verdict came down, Krewson was quick to express her disappointment and also made a statement in support of the peaceful protest.4 And today she said internal affairs division of the St. Louis police would investigate misconduct. But we know we can’t rely on the police to investigate themselves. We need Krewson to take REAL action to protect protesters. That’s why we’re calling on her to widely condemn any use of excessive force against protesters and call an independent commission to investigate the actions of police during this time. She won’t have a choice if enough of us join together in making the demand. Will you sign the petition?

Tell the St. Louis Mayor: Take a stand against police violence. Protect the right to protest in your city.

This weekend’s events are history repeating itself again and again since the dawn of the Civil Rights Movement. When Black people gather to demand an end to state violence, the state doubles down on the violence people were there to protest in the first place. We saw the St. Louis Police Department’s militarized response to protest in Ferguson in 2014, and we’re seeing it again today. St. Louis police department has one of the highest rates of police-involved killings.5 And instead of encouraging peaceful protest, St, Louis police invoked fear and provoked the confrontation. Using tear gas and riot gear, the police in St. Louis have arrested over 100 people since Friday that the police chief called “criminals.”6

In fact, the St. Louis Police Department has been overstating the supposed crime and vandalism to excuse their overly aggressive actions against mostly peaceful protests. Just yesterday, the police department tweeted a picture of a spray bottle filled with apple cider vinegar–a remedy protesters use to alleviate the symptoms of tear gas–and called it a “chemical agent” they confiscated from people trying to use it “against police officers.”7 The truth is that St. Louis police agitated protesters, and none of their actions were centered in de-escalation. They came dressed for a riot. And it’s what they got. Taunting at protesters is not how police officers should be engaging during this time.

It’s unacceptable. Mayor Krewson has said she wants to come together as a united St. Louis–and that means speaking out against behavior that seeks to divide us and push back against the change our communities need. Protest is a right that should be protected. And the actions of St. Louis police need to be investigated by an independent commission immediately.

Sign the petition.

Until justice is real,

— Arisha, Rashad, Scott, Clarise, Anay, Malaya, Enchanta, Katrese, and the Color Of Change team

References:

1. “St. Louis officers chant ‘whose streets, our streets’ while arresting protesters,” Washington Post, 09-18-2017

2. “A new generation of white supremacists emerges,” Louisiana Weekly, 08-21-17

3. “St. Louis cops trample, arrest woman at protest,” New York Post, 09-16-2017

4. “Mayor Krewson’s statement on verdict,” Twitter @LydaKrewson, 09-15-2017

5. “Letter to Mayor Krewson re: Police Conduct at Sunday Night Protest,” ACLU of Missouri, 09-18-2017

6. “St. Louis protests continue, police arrest more than 100 people and vow: ‘This is our city,'” Washington Post, 09-18-2017

7. “St. Louis Police Claim an ‘Unknown Chemical’ Labeled ‘Apple Cider Vinegar’ Maliciously Used Against Them,” The Root, 09-19-2017

__________
Color Of Change is building a movement to elevate the voices of Black folks and our allies, and win real social and political change. Help keep our movement strong.

Squirrel rescuers: the worst of the worst.

[CONTENT NOTE: disgusting images of baby squirrels, descriptions of wildly inappropriate human-squirrel interactions.]

Goddammit.

Twenty years working wildlife rehab, and Kevin Barton has seen it all. Or he thought he had. At least until Hurricane Irma tore through Florida this week. It wasn’t the variety of species that grabbed his attention. It was the volume. Of utterly common critters, like bunnies and squirrels. Mainly squirrels.

By midweek, the Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Center of Venice had accepted 140 baby squirrels, from week-old hairless “pinkies” to unweaned juveniles.

ONE HUNDRED AND FORTY FUCKING SQUIRRELS. Yes, what people rebuilding their lives from Irma’s devastation in Florida really need right now… more squirrels.

%$#@*&!

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