Once-Obscure US Atheist Group Takes On Bush's Faith-Based Initiative At Supreme CourtFebruary 22, 2007 00:33 Annie Laurie Gaylor speaks with a soft voice, but her message catches attention: Keep God out of government.

Gaylor has helped transform the Freedom From Religion Foundation from obscurity into the nation's largest group of atheists and agnostics, with a fast-rising membership and increasing legal clout.

Next week, the group started by Gaylor and her mother in the 1970s to take on the religious right will fight its most high-profile battle when the U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments on its lawsuit against President George W. Bush's faith-based initiative.

The court will decide whether taxpayers can sue over federal funding that the foundation believes promotes religion in what could be a major ruling for groups that fight to keep church and state separate.

"What's at stake is the right to challenge the establishment of religion by the government," Gaylor said.
  McCain Says Court Decision That Legalized Abortion Should Be OverturnedFebruary 19, 2007 10:43 Republican presidential candidate John McCain, looking to improve his standing with the party's conservative voters, said Sunday the court decision that legalized abortion should be overturned.

“I do not support Roe versus Wade. It should be overturned,” the Arizona senator told about 800 people in South Carolina, one of the early voting states.

McCain also vowed that if elected, he would appoint judges who “strictly interpret the Constitution of the United States and do not legislate from the bench.”

The landmark 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade gave women the right to choose an abortion to terminate a pregnancy. The Supreme Court has narrowly upheld the decision, with the presence of an increasing number of more conservative justices on the court raising the possibility that abortion rights would be limited.

Social conservatives are a critical voting bloc in the GOP presidential primaries.
  Civil Unions Available In NJ To Gay Couples Starting MondayFebruary 18, 2007 22:31 Hundreds of gay couples were set to have the same legal protections as married couples Monday, as a law making New Jersey the third state in the nation to offer civil unions was to take effect.

For gay couples and gay rights activists, it figures to be a day of celebration and lament. With the law in place, New Jersey is becoming one of just five states to offer all the legal benefits of marriage to gay partners.

The state, though, stopped short of calling the institutions marriage.

Civil unions emerged in New Jersey out of four years of litigation and a whirlwind few weeks of political dealmaking late last year.

In October, the state Supreme Court ruled that gay couples in the state were constitutionally entitled to all the benefits of marriage, but left it up to lawmakers to decide the details.

  Patenting LifeFebruary 13, 2007 15:32 The plain truth is that gene patents aren’t benign and never will be. When SARS was spreading across the globe, medical researchers hesitated to study it — because of patent concerns. There is no clearer indication that gene patents block innovation, inhibit research and put us all at risk.

Even your doctor can’t get relevant information. An asthma medication only works in certain patients. Yet its manufacturer has squelched efforts by others to develop genetic tests that would determine on whom it will and will not work. Such commercial considerations interfere with a great dream. For years we’ve been promised the coming era of personalized medicine — medicine suited to our particular body makeup. Gene patents destroy that dream.

Fortunately, two congressmen want to make the full benefit of the decoded genome available to us all. Last Friday, Xavier Becerra, a Democrat of California, and Dave Weldon, a Republican of Florida, sponsored the Genomic Research and Accessibility Act, to ban the practice of patenting genes found in nature. Mr. Becerra has been careful to say the bill does not hamper invention, but rather promotes it. He’s right. This bill will fuel innovation, and return our common genetic heritage to us. It deserves our support.
  Romney's Abortion Stance Takes Sharp Right TurnFebruary 08, 2007 13:55 Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney has had an epiphany on abortion — not once, but twice.

The first time was when Romney was a young man in the 1960s and his brother-in-law's sister — an engaged-to-be-married teen who became pregnant — died in a botched illegal abortion.

Roughly three decades later, while campaigning for the Senate in 1994, Romney described that tragedy as the event that triggered his conclusion that regardless of personal beliefs, abortion should be safe and legal.

He repeated that position while running for Massachusetts governor in 2002. In both contests, he attempted to underscore his support for abortion rights as he sought the favor of moderate and liberal voters.

Today, as Romney plots a national campaign for president — he makes a formal announcement on Tuesday — he is seeking to reassure social conservatives pivotal to winning the GOP nomination that he sincerely opposes abortion. He describes himself as pro-life, argues that Roe v. Wade should be replaced with state abortion regulations, and cites the science he studied amid a legislative debate over embryonic stem cell research as the basis for his position.

  Haggard Convinced He's 'Completely Heterosexual' After Counseling For Sex, DrugsFebruary 06, 2007 13:34 These people are amazing. Based on the meth addiction recidivism stats alone these idiots are lying to themselves...

One of four ministers who oversaw three weeks of intensive counseling for the Rev. Ted Haggard said the disgraced minister emerged convinced he is "completely heterosexual."

Haggard also said his sexual contact with men was limited to the former male prostitute who came forward with sexual allegations, the Rev. Tim Ralph of Larkspur told The Denver Post for a story in Tuesday's edition. Click here to read the Denver Post story

"He is completely heterosexual," Ralph said. "That is something he discovered. It was the acting-out situations where things took place. It wasn't a constant thing."

Ralph said the board spoke with people close to Haggard while investigating his claim that his only extramarital sexual contact happened with Mike Jones, and they found no evidence to the contrary.

"If we're going to be proved wrong, somebody else is going to come forward, and that usually happens really quickly," he said. "We're into this thing over 90 days and it hasn't happened."
  Proposal To Bar Religion Challenges Is DangerousFebruary 05, 2007 13:16 The Arizona Legislature is made up of many ordinary citizens. It would be unfair to expect them to be legal scholars, but they should at least be comfortable with the idea of living in the United States and respecting constitutional principles.

Some of them, clearly, are not.

One of the key principles embedded in the Constitution holds, in effect, that the United States is not a theocracy. The founders, both those who were religious and those who were secular humanists, never intended that it would be.

This is a fundamental truth. Which is why a resolution introduced last week by Sen. Karen Johnson, R-Mesa, is profoundly disturbing. Johnson's resolution, which proposes an amendment to the state Constitution, would subvert this principle as it applies to Arizona courts.

The proposal would prohibit all Arizona courts, from the Supreme Court on down, from granting injunctions or other legal relief if the question involves "the acknowledgement of God as the sovereign source of law, liberty or government."

According to a story in Wednesday's Star by Howard Fischer of Capitol Media Services, that prohibition would remain in place whether the action were brought against the government as a whole or any state or local official.

Johnson, who publicly supports various conspiracy theories, is unhappy with recent court rulings that upheld the constitutional separation of church and state.

  'Faith-Based' Government Spending: Hein V. Freedom From Religion FoundationFebruary 03, 2007 00:16 The Freedom From Religion Foundation today filed its brief in Hein v. the Freedom From Religion Foundation before the U.S. Supreme Court, which will hold oral arguments on Feb. 28. The case involves the right of federal taxpayers to challenge Bush's creation of federal faith-based offices.

All briefs from both sides are now filed in the faith-based challenge.

Filing friend-of-the-court briefs in favor of the Freedom From Religion Foundation are the American Civil Liberties Union with Americans United for Separation of Church & State, the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Freedom, People for the American Way Foundation, and the Anti-Defamation League (in a joint brief); the American Humanist Association; the Center for Free Inquiry; the American Jewish Congress, and American Atheists.
  Feds Prepare To Indict Businessman Linked To CunninghamFebruary 02, 2007 09:28 Federal prosecutors in San Diego are preparing to seek indictments against a San Diego defense contractor and a former top CIA official linked to the bribery scandal that sent former U.S. Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham to prison, two government officials familiar with the investigation said.

The officials, who spoke Wednesday to The Associated Press only on condition of anonymity because grand jury proceedings are secret and the charges have not been finalized, said prosecutors plan to ask a San Diego grand jury to return charges of honest services fraud and conspiracy against Brent Wilkes and Kyle "Dusty" Foggo.

Wilkes' lawyers have said he is one of four unidentified co-conspirators described in the 2005 plea agreement for Cunningham, a San Diego Republican.

Honest services fraud is a combination of mail and wire fraud often used in public corruption cases involving officials who have engaged in a pattern of improper activities, such as accepting gifts, trips or promises of future employment from private individuals.