Western Colorado Atheists and Freethinkers’ spring message

Billboard by Sprouts

Western Colorado Atheists and Freethinkers (WCAF) has a message for Grand Valley residents this spring: Atheism is “a personal relationship with reality.”

WCAF is the area’s longest-serving secular group, and their billboard is to help encourage people come to logical conclusions based on verifiable facts rather than basing conclusions on dogma, fables, mythology, superstition or sheer faith. That’s the message of the group’s spring, 2019 billboard, which went up today on I-70B by Rimrock Marketplace in front of Hobby Lobby and Chick-Fil-A. The board is west-facing and visible to traffic coming into town. It will be up for one week. Take photos with it while you can.

Free digital literacy resources available from Southern Poverty Law Center

Are you a teacher looking for ways to teach kids how to tell the difference between real and “fake” news, how to determine whether an online source is legitimate, reliable and fair, and how to engage in social media discussions responsibly? Are you looking for ways to help kids negotiate topics in the news, like immigration, civil rights, race and gender identity?

Well, here’s your answer.

The Southern Poverty Law Center now offers free Common Core-compatible classroom materials and resources that can help kids discern malicious online fare like propaganda deployed by hate groups to recruit new members, false conspiracy theories and racist lies. It will also help kids become more sophisticated consumers of news and social media and navigate topics like race and ethnicity, religion, variations in ability, immigration, class, bullying and bias, gender and sexual identity and rights and activism.

And did we mention it’s all free?

SPLC’s, program, “Teaching Tolerance,” includes K-12 lesson plans that align with Common Core standards and offers professional development tools that will help teachers increase their own online savvy. Teachers can access a multitude of resources, like lessons for different grade levels, student tasks, lesson plans, teaching strategies for different grade levels, film kits, printable posters and other classroom materials, and they are all available at no cost by visiting Tolerance.org.

Colorado bill would prohibit teaching religious doctrine in public school sex ed curriculum

Colorado State Senator Don Coram

Delta County School District, are you listening?

Colorado State Senator Don Coram, a Republican who represents Montrose and Ouray counties, is a sponsor of HB19-1032, “Comprehensive Human Sexuality Education,” a bill to prohibit sex ed instruction in K-12 public schools from “explicitly or implicitly teaching or endorsing religious ideology or sectarian tenets or doctrines, using shame-based or stigmatizing language or instructional tools, employing gender norms or gender stereotypes, or excluding the relational or sexual experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender individuals.”

The bill would appropriate least $1 million annually for a grant program to carry out the new law, and it would give highest priority for the grant funds to rural public schools.

Why is this bill needed? Because of the Delta County School District.

Local students win essay contest awards of $500 and $250

An awards ceremony will be held tomorrow, Sunday, March 31 at 1:15 p.m. in the Monument Room of the downtown Mesa County Public Library to announce the winners of Western Colorado Atheists and Freethinkers‘ 2018 Student Essay Contest.

The contest, announced last September, was open to all middle and high school students in Mesa County. The topic for submissions was the importance of separation of church and state to our country, and our democracy.

A student from Grand Junction High School won the high school award of $500 and a student from Redlands Middle School won the middle school award of $250.

One good thing Trump has done: Banning bump stocks

Trump banned bump stocks last December by executive action, and the new law is effective NOW.

Watch out, local gun nuts. President Donald Trump is coming for your guns.

Last December, President Trump issued an executive order banning bump stocks (pdf), devices that use the recoil energy generated from each shot of a semi-automatic rifle to increase the firearms’ rate of fire. The new rule amended the definition of “machine gun” to include bump stocks.

The ban went into effect three days ago, on March 26, 2019, exactly 90 days after it was published in the Federal Register.

On March 28, 2019 the U.S. Supreme Court refused an effort by gun nuts to block the ban, so Trump’s new rule is currently in full force, making anyone who owns a bump stock a felon.

AnneLandmanBlog Voter Guide: Grand Junction City Election 2019

Wondering how to vote in the City of Grand Junction 2019 election?

Following are AnneLandmanBlog’s recommendations for how to vote in the 2019 City of Grand Junction April 2, 2019 Regular Municipal Election.

I reached my conclusions about which city council candidates to vote for by listening to interviews, knowing the candidates personally or knowing something about them and their history in town, and considering factors like how well-funded their campaigns are. Decades of living in Grand Junction helps put this in context.

Mail order abortion pills now available in the U.S.

Need a safe abortion even though it’s hard to get one in or around Grand Junction?

Now there’s an answer, if you’re healthy and less than 9 weeks pregnant.

The Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice announced that mail order abortion pills are now available in the U.S. through the Dutch website AidAccess.org.

AidAccess is a private initiative by a committed team of medical doctors and longterm abortion rights activists. The website is supported by a team of English and Spanish-speaking help-desk members. The goal of AidAccess.org is to assist women who don’t have access to locally available abortion services.

AidAccess was established a decade or so ago by Dr. Rebecca Gomperts, acting on the conviction that laws do not control whether or not abortions happen, the only thing laws can control is whether or not they happen safely.

Aid Access helps arrange for abortion pills to be shipped to patients around the world, and last October, as a result of growing requests and tightening abortion laws, the organization started arranging for the shipping of abortion pills to the United States.

Gun laws WORK

Australia’s mandatory gun buyback

On April 28, 1996, a crazed gunman armed with a semi-automatic rifle killed 35 people and injured 18 more when he went on a shooting spree at a historic and tourist site in Port Arthur, Tasmania in Australia’s worst gun massacre.

Within four months, the Australian government tightened the country’s gun laws, making the country’s gun restrictions among the strictest in the world.

The new laws banned all fully automatic, semi-automatic, pump-action and self-loading firearms, prohibited private sales, thus limiting who could legally sell or supply weapons, enacted  minimum requirements for licensing of firearms and put in place more secure storage rules for firearms. The new laws also created a mandatory ‘cooling-off’ period of 28 days before a person could granted a gun license, introduced compulsory safety courses and required people applying to purchase firearms to supply a “genuine reason” that they needed to own a firearm, and that reason could not include self-defense.

Predictably, conservatives and gun owners strongly fought the new laws, but the government enacted them anyway. And lest anyone think the gun laws were the work of liberals, Australia’s laws were enacted under then-Prime Minister John Howard, well known as a conservative political figure.

Come on, G.J.: It’s time to charge a fee on single-use plastic grocery bags

Darrell Blatchley of the museum shows the plastic found in the young whale that beached itself near Davao, Philippines, last Friday

A necropsy done on a beached juvenile whale last Friday in the Philippines revealed it had nothing but 88 pounds of plastic in its digestive tract and likely suffered for up to a year with pain from bowel obstruction before dying. D’Bone Collector Museum, whose mission is retrieving dead animals rarely seen by the public and preserving them, collected the whale off the beach and performed the necropsy. They said it was the most plastic they had ever seen in a whale.

National Geographic reports that nearly every seabird on Earth now has plastic in its system. A 2016 study by the Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences of the U.S. on the effect of plastics in the environment concluded that threat is “geographically widespread, pervasive, and rapidly increasing.”

Americans use about 100 billion single-use plastic grocery bags every year, which requires 12 million barrels of oil to manufacture. Every plastic bag is used for an average of 12 minutes, and can take up to 500 years to degrade in the environment.

All this has some big implications for Grand Junction and Mesa County residents.

Lessons from past G.J. City Council elections

Rick Brainard, one of the best-funded candidates who ever ran for Grand Junction City Council, was backed to the bitter end by the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce and the Old Guard Republican Establishment

Were you around for the 2013 City of Grand Junction election?

If not, then you really missed a doozy.

That was a year in which Grand Junction residents learned some big, important lessons about city council elections.

Here is one of them:

The best-funded candidates for city council are often the  WORST people to sit on city council.