What right should students have to talk about God in homework, assemblies, club meetings, and graduation speeches? This is the question at stake in a new law in Tennessee and other states across the country. On Thursday, Governor Bill Haslam signed the Religious Viewpoints Anti-Discrimination Act, which affirms that religious students should have the same free-speech rights as secular ones. At first, this might seem uncontroversial; religious expression has always been protected by the First Amendment. So why did two Republican state legislators feel the need to write the bill?
"Christian conservative groups have for many years been frustrated by what they see as a hostile environment for religion in public schools," said Charles Haynes, the Director of the Religious Freedom Education Project at the Newseum. "They are convinced—with some justification—that there’s a lot more that public schools can be doing to protect religious expression."
In Tennessee, legislators pointed to one case in particular as the motivation for creating the bill. In October, a teacher told a Memphis fifth grader that she couldn’t write about God in an essay about “her idol.” In defiance, ten-year-old Erin Shead wrote two essays—both about the Almighty, although only one was about Michael Jackson—and her mom sought legal help. The elementary schooler was later allowed to turn in her God essay (and earned a score of 100%, as local news organizations dutifully reported at the time).
Read more. [Image: Reuters]
A new project, initiated by a collective of artists from around the world including the French JR, has tried to reach the people pulling the trigger in America’s drone wars—the drone operators themselves.
It’s called “Not A Bug Splat,” and its gets its name from the term drone operators use for a successful “kill,” because—in the pixelated grayscale of the drone camera—ending a human life looks like squashing a bug.
Read more. [Image: Not a Bug Splat]
#Venezuela is being reigned by a #murderous, #terrorist and #authoritative government. At least 40 #students have been murdered by both the military and by state-permitted #paramilitary forces, namely #tupamaro groups. The country produces 2 million barrels of oil a day and there is an unprecedented shortage of supplies. No food, no medicines. #HIV & #cancer patients have no way to get treated. There is no respect for basic #HumanRights. Please raise awareness, this fight must not go unnoticed. #sosvenezuela #PrayForVenezuela photocredits unknown student
The question of why some humans are left-handed — including such notable specimens as Plato, Charles Darwin, Carl Sagan, Debbie Millman, Stephen Jay Gould, Noam Chomsky, and Albert Einstein — has perplexed scientists for centuries. For Southpaws themselves — the affectionate term for lefties — this biological peculiarity has been everything from a source of stigma to a point of pride. But at the heart of it remains an evolutionary mystery…
The International Court of Justice has ordered a temporary halt to Japan’s annual slaughter of whales in the southern ocean after concluding that the hunts are not, as Japan claims, conducted for scientific research.
The UN court’s decision, by a 12-4 majority among a panel of judges, casts serious doubt over the long-term future of the jewel in the crown of Japan’s controversial whaling programme. Read more
Pictured: Three dead minke whales lie on the deck of the Japanese whaling vessel Nisshin Maru, in the Southern Ocean. Photograph: Tim Watters/AP
The home secretary is to take personal charge of the way police respond to domestic abuse in England and Wales after a damning report exposed “alarming and unacceptable” weaknesses.
Theresa May will lead a national oversight group to ensure chief constables act on the recommendations of Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC), which she described as “depressing reading”. Read more
Photograph: Carl Court/AFP/Getty Images
After a week of sunny days and cold nights, much of France’s air has become a sort of toxic stew. And Paris is by no means the only region affected. The northern cities of Caen and Rouen are also laying on free public transport until Sunday, with Reims and Grenoble offering a free commute for today alone. Such measures might seem drastic seen from the United States—they will cost the Paris region €4 million per day and will include making the city’s bike-share scheme free to use—but in France they are already being damned as too little, too late. Right-leaning daily Le Monde has criticized the plans as “timid.” The week-long delay in implementing them, it says, reflects 20 years of inertia in France during which the motorist lobby and manufacturers of diesel-powered vehicles have stifled legislation and debate.