Category: Education

Culture Shift: Drag Queens Come to Grand Junction

Grand Junction drag queens

The CD’s Drag, Grand Junction’s first professional drag queen troupe

While Caitlyn Jenner has been grabbing all the headlines, it’s been almost overlooked that Grand Junction has been experiencing some gender-bending of its own.

Grand Junction now has its first professional drag queen troupe, The CD’s Drag and Jewell Case, LLC. The troupe is another indication of a slow but steady culture shift going on in this formerly conservative area of Colorado, and for that reason alone it’s surely something significant enough to talk about.

The troupe currently has five members, although usually only two or three perform at any given time. The group’s founders and lead performers are Coco Jem Holiday and Donatella Mysecrets De’Ore, and the supporting members are Livvi Dior, Onyx Reign and Delilah Delight. With a total of five entertainers now in their “Jewell Case,” the CDs have enough so they can have coverage in the event that some can’t make it to a gig.

Atheist Billboard Graces I-70 Business Loop at Easter

WCAF's billboard graces I-70 Business Loop right in front of Hobby Lobby, which sued the federal government to deny its female employees' coverage for contraception due to the company owners' personal religious beliefs.

WCAF’s billboard graces I-70 Business Loop right in front of Hobby Lobby, which sued the federal government to deny its female employees’ coverage for contraception due to the company owners’ personal religious beliefs. (Photo Credit: JT)

A new digital billboard is up on I-70 Business Loop in Grand Junction, Colorado, supports people who don’t believe in God by reassuring them that they’re not alone. The board was put up by Western Colorado Atheists and Freethinkers (WCAF), the area’s first secular group. WCAF was founded in February, 2007, to give western Colorado atheists voice in a part of Colorado where religiosity has historically dominated the culture and people were afraid to admit they didn’t believe in God.

WCAF billboard

WCAF’s billboard on I-70 Business Loop, just west of Chick-Fil-A. It reads, “Don’t Believe? You’re not alone,” and lists WCAF’s website at WesternColoradoAtheists.org.

“If you had told me 25 years ago a day would come in Grand Junction when a big, glowing atheist billboard would be up on the main highway into town on Easter weekend, I never would have believed it,” said Anne Landman, Board Member at Large of WCAF. “But times have really changed here. We’ve had a huge amount of support for this board. It’s all right now to be an open atheist in western Colorado, and that’s what WCAF is saying with this board. It’s fine not to believe in God. Lots of people don’t, and if you don’t, you’re joining a fast-growing number of people in the U.S. who don’t.”

WCAF meets regularly twice a month and invites people to visit its website at WesternColoradoAtheists.org for information on meeting times and locations.

FFRF: Fruita Monument High School’s Baccalaureate Violates First Amendment

FMHSLogoA concerned member of the Fruita Monument High School community has sought help from the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) over a “baccalaureate” ceremony held in the school’s gym last year on May 12, 2014, and possibly over concerns of a similar event occurring this year around graduation time.

A baccalaureate is a religious ceremony held a few days before a school’s official graduation ceremony. Baccalaureates often feature prayers, bible readings, sermons or benedictions, and music. Students may wear their caps and gowns, and readings may be given by school employees.

Because baccalaureates are religious events, the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution requires publicly-funded schools to divorce themselves from any connection to these events. Schools cannot help plan, design or sponsor these ceremonies. School employees cannot participate in organizing such events or appear at them in their official capacities. If school auditoriums or gyms are used for the ceremonies, a private party must rent the venue out for the event. The law requires a complete separation between the school and the baccalaureate in every sense.

Students Who Didn’t Want to Attend Allegedly Threatened

The anonymous complainant reported that FMHS Principal Todd McClaskey, Vice Principal Lee Carleton, and other school staff members helped plan the May, 2014 baccalaureate ceremony at FMHS. They reported that FMHS teachers and administrators spoke in their official capacities at the event, reading bible verses and speaking in general terms about the virtues of being a Christian. FMHS’ choir and orchestra students were required to perform at the baccalaureate, and students who didn’t want to take part in the ceremony were threatened with lower grades and told that if they failed to attend, they would have to perform all of the concert music, solo, in front of the entire class, at a later date.

The “Little Free Library” Movement Comes to Grand Junction

Little Free Library box at 14th Street and Texas Ave.

Little Free Library box at 14th Street and Texas Ave.

LittleParkLibrary

Little Free Library on Little Park Road

In 2009, Todd Bol of Hudson, Wisconsin, built a small box in the shape of a one room schoolhouse, filled it with books and mounted it on a post in his front yard with a sign that said “FREE BOOKS. Take a book, leave a book.”  People in his neighborhood loved it, and so did his family and friends. Soon other Wisconsinites started putting up little free libraries in their own neighborhoods. The trend soon expanded to other states and countries around the world, and in a few short years the “Little Free Library” movement was born. Bol originally put up his free library box to promote reading for children, literacy for adults and to help people see the value of libraries in general.

Colorado Mountain College on Energy Expo: “We are not hosts of the event”

CMCRachel Pokrandt, Dean of the Rifle Campus of Colorado Mountain College (CMC), says she didn’t know anything about the Energy Expo’s speaker program and the school is not a host of the event, despite being listed as a host on the event’s promotional materials.

“We never agreed to be a host” of the event, Pokrandt said. She says the event organizers “Really did represent us quite horribly.”

Pokrandt says CMC just has a small booth at the event, which they have rented annually for the past 10 years, to educate people about their solar, biofuels and other programs.

“We don’t want to be connected with that type of speaker,” Pokrandt said, referring to Energy Expo speaker John L. Casey, who speaks on the topic of climate science despite having no degrees in climatology and never having published any peer-reviewed research on the subject. His talks typically start out with charts, statistics and scientific claims, but by the end of his talks, he devolves into fearmongering and racist statements.

Videos posted online of Casey’s talks show him speaking before tea party groups. He says anthropogenic climate change is a scientific fraud perpetrated by the U.S. government and the United Nations. He says global warming is over, that sun entered a period of “hibernation” in 2007 and the earth is now entering a prolonged period of cooling that will lead to an increase in earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. Casey further says this cold phase will cause the world’s food supply to diminish and people will need to lay in a year’s supply of food and be ready to flee to the countryside and defend their food stores from urban minorities who, he says, will start beating and murdering people to get their food supplies — after government food stamp programs can no longer sustain them.

Pokrandt said that in the past, the Energy Expo and Forum has been “fairly level” in regard to balance in the types of speakers they’ve had, and between renewable and non-renewable types of energy, but that unfortunately due to the circumstances this year, CMC may have to withdraw its involvement from the event in the future.

 

Protest Planned at Energy Expo

W.Slope stupidty signGrand Junction residents concerned about integrity in science, environment and education are planning to protest at this year’s Energy Expo and Forum at 1:00 p.m. Friday on the south side of Two Rivers Convention Center, and are inviting others from around the west slope to join in.

The reason for the protest — the first ever at the Energy Expo — is this year’s speaker, John L. Casey, who claims anthropogenic global climate change is a scientific fraud and government conspiracy. Casey writes and speaks about climate change, yet has no degrees in climate science, nor has he ever published any peer-reviewed information on the subject. He appears almost exclusively before tea party groups.

Online videos of Casey’s prior talks reveal him to be a fear monger and a racist. He starts out with a dry talk using charts and statistics and says global climate change is a fraud perpetrated by the United Nations and the U.S. government. He then tells his audiences that the sun has gone into a “hibernation” phase and the earth is entering a cold era that will devastate crops and lead to food shortages. He then tells audiences they need to store away one year’s worth of food, and get ready to defend their food stores from starving, inner-city minority groups, who will rise up in mass and try to assault and kill people to steal their food.

The Energy Expo is a privately-owned event that is free and open to the public. The event owners are former Club 20 Executive Director Bonnie Peterson and former Mesa County Commissioner and oil and gas lobbyist Kathy Hall. Peterson was responsible for choosing Casey as a speaker this year. Neither event owner informed the event’s supposed “hosts” or sponsors, including Colorado Mountain College, Colorado Mesa University and the John McConnell Math and Science Center, about the choice of speakers until event materials had already gone into production. When “hosts” then complained about Mr. Casey being a speaker, they were told it was too late to change the lineup, because event materials had already been printed.

Two Rivers Convention Center, where the Expo and protest will be held, is owned by the City of Grand Junction.

The public is invited to join the protest at the Energy Expo and the organizers’ shocking choice of John L. Casey as a speaker.

Area Educational Institutions Blindsided by Choice of Expo Speaker

Bonnie Peterson is said to be the person responsible for inviting Casey to speak, without  informing hosts or sponsors of the Energy Expo.

Bonnie Peterson is said to be the person responsible for inviting Casey to speak, without informing hosts or sponsors of the Energy Expo.

Neither Colorado Mesa University President Tim Foster nor Teresa Coons, Executive Director of the John McConnell Math and Science Center, were consulted or informed about the controversial speaker that members of small Expo subcommittee quietly selected to keynote this year’s Club 20 Energy Expo in Grand Junction.

John L. Casey, slated to give the keynote talk at this Friday’s Energy Expo, has alarmed citizens with his extreme fringe views.

In videos of his talks publicly available online, Casey tells audiences that man-made climate change is a scientific fraud perpetrated by the U.S. Government and the United Nations. He says global warming has ended, that in 2007 the sun entered a “hibernation” phase and now we have to prepare for a coming ice age that will devastate our food supply. In a November, 2014 video, Casey predicts dire food shortages worldwide. He urges people to lay in a full year’s supply of food to cope with it, telling people to ignore the expiration dates printed on food containers. He predicts that the diminished food supply will lead to massive social panic and tells his audiences that they need to get ready to defend their food stores from rioters, murderers and thieves. His mission is to “get the message out” about the purported coming devastation.

George Rossman, one of the three committee members responsible for inviting Casey to speak

George Rossman, one of the three committee members responsible for inviting Casey to speak

The Tea Party News Network bills Casey as a “climatologist,” and though he has made a name for himself speaking and writing about climate science, he has no degrees in climatology, nor has he ever published any peer-reviewed research on the topic. He is a favorite speaker of Florida tea party groups, and available videos invariably show him speaking before far-right conservative audiences and talk show hosts.

Foster and Coons are both quick say that their organizations have not contributed any money to the Energy Expo, but neither has stepped up to condemn the invitation of Casey.

Casey was selected to speak by a three person subset the committee that organized the Energy Expo. Members of this committee reportedly are Bonnie Peterson, former chair of the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce and now Executive Director of the Associated Governments of Northwest Colorado, Kathy Hall, a former lobbyist for the Colorado Oil and Gas Association and George Rossman (who is a woman), a professional event organizer. None of these committee members informed the Expo’s hosts or sponsors about their choices of speakers prior to finalizing the schedule.

There are only two possibilities these women could claim that led to selection of this embarassing speaker: 1) They were fully aware of Casey’s fringe views and lack of credentials, and invited him anyway, or 2) they didn’t properly vet Casey prior to hiring him to keynote the event.

Neither scenario is acceptable.

If the first scenario is true, then these three acting alone pulled the Energy Expo into the tea party political fringe zone without informing the hosts or sponsors whose organizations’ names appear on Expo promotional materials about their choices.

If the second scenario is true, they neglected a duty to vet Mr. Casey by checking out his previous talks, and should be held accountable for this mistake and the shame it has brought to the event.

The event’s biosketch of Casey, whichi says up front that he’s been called a scam artist and a fraud, would seem to indicate scenario #1 is the case, and that Peterson, Hall and Rossman knew exactly what they were doing, and what they were bringing to the Expo by inviting Casey.CaseyEnergyForum

Event hosts Colorado Mountain College, CMU and the Math and Science Center, may not have contributed any money to the event, but they have put their credibility as respected educational institutions on the line. By trusting the Expo organizers, they’ve shot themselves in the foot. In exchange for lending their names to the event, the organizers have dragged them into the mud by purposely choosing a wacky, fringe tea party speaker who trades on generating fear to make a name for himself.

 

 

 

Why a Fetus is Not a Person

NotADifficultConcept

Updated November 5, 2014

Colorado’s Amendment 67 did not pass, to the relief of most of the state. The measure would have declared unborn human beings as a “person” or a “child” in the Colorado Criminal Code.

It was yet another a personhood measure, but this year Personhood USA, the group pushing these kinds of measures, tried to disguise that fact by calling it the “Brady Amendment,” after a fetus a woman lost in a 2012 drunk driving accident. Naming the measure after a woman’s lost fetus was an attempt to give the measure emotional appeal, because when you can get people to react through emotion, they’ll often bypass their rational thinking.

A fundamentally flawed argument

Coloradans have rejected personhood measures three times now, for good reason. The thinking behind these ballot initiatives is illogical and thus fundamentally flawed.

A fetus is not a person in any legal sense.

Both fertilized eggs and clones represent potential, not actual human beings.

Zygotes, or fertilized eggs, and fetuses lack many of the physical characteristics of human beings. They don’t have brains, skeletons, or internal organs. A fetus cannot engage in human perception or thought. The analogy that fits is that an acorn is not an oak tree and the egg you eat for breakfast is not a chicken.

Fetuses have no social identity, and there is no precedent for giving them such. Names are not legally conferred upon fetuses, only upon babies after birth.  The first legal recognition of a person’s existence is their birth certificate. No government on Earth issues “pre-birth certificates.” The government does not issue death certificates for miscarried or aborted fetuses. The government does not issue social security numbers to fetuses, nor does the government confer any rights of citizenship on upon conception.

Ray Scott Tanks Club 20 Debate

Ray Scott may be running out of gas in the legislature, after not really getting anywhere anyway

Ray Scott may be running out of gas after several terms in the state legislature, after not really getting anywhere anyway in trying to  pass bills since January, 2011

Things aren’t going very well for poor Ray Scott, the incumbent Republican candidate for Colorado Senate District 7. The senate seat he is after will soon be vacated by longtime Mesa County GOP favorite son, Steve King, who currently is facing multiple misdemeanor and felony charges for theft and failing to report income as required by legislators. King’s fate may not be directly tied to Ray Scott in any way, but it certainly doesn’t help the beleaguered local GOP, which has put forth a truly embarrassing long string of inept and/or discredited candidates for office.

Ray Scott faced off with Democrat Claudette Konola in the recent Club 20 candidate debates, where he took a real hit.

Claudette opened the debate by linking Scott and his party with some of those truly bad candidates, including Steve King and former congressman Scott McInnis, who got his buddies in Congress to name a federal wilderness area named after himself in violation of congress’ House Rules, and who stepped down in disgrace from the 2010 race for governor amid allegations of massive plagiarism.

Scott opened at the debate by saying he probably wouldn’t even have gotten up that morning if it hadn’t have been for the debate. Not exactly the level of enthusiasm an incumbent legislator should project with an election just weeks away.

Grand Junction’s First Secular A.A. Group Moves to New Location

Mesa County's new secular Alcoholics Anonymous group meets every Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. at the Veterans Art Center at 370 S. 12th Street (SW corner of 12th and Ute.)

Mesa County’s new secular Alcoholics Anonymous group now meets every Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. at the Veterans Art Center at 370 S. 12th Street (SW corner of 12th and Ute.)

Mesa County’s new secular Alcoholics Anonymous group, “We Agnostics,” which started up just a few months ago, has already moved up to better digs. The group now meets at 6:30 p.m. every Wednesday the Veteran’s Art Center at 307 S. 12th Street (at the southwest corner of 12th Street and Ute Ave., in the old Sentinel Printing building). We Agnostics is for recovering alcoholics who prefer an alternative to AA meetings that emphasize religion and use the “higher power” rhetoric commonly encountered in many meetings. As We Agnostics says on their brochure (pdf), “The only requirement for A.A. membership is a desire to stop drinking.” We Agnostics’ goal is “to assure suffering alcoholics that they can achieve sobriety with the support of A.A. without having to accept anyone else’s beliefs or deny their own.”

“DrillingAhead.com” Gives Inside Look at Problems, Accidents and Worker Behavior in Oil and Gas Field

DrillingAhead.com is a worldwide networking website for employees of the oil and gas field. Rotating news stories on the the site’s front page have headlines like “Fingertip Amputation Hangs Over Chesapeak Energy,” “2 Dead, 9 Injured After Oilfield Explosion Near Orla, Texas,” and “Texas Newspaper Investigation Questions Oilfield Safety; Says 663 Killed in 6 Years.” The latter story discusses the U.S. federal government’s failure to enforce safety standards on drilling rigs.

DrillingAhead.com also lets oil and gas field workers upload videos of what they see  at their worksites. So far workers have uploaded almost 16,000 videos onto the site, with many showing accidents and workers screwing around. One video titled “Directional Drilling Nightmare” shows a drill bit gone awry and surfacing in a nearby field, spewing mud and fluid around the area. Others show workers sleeping on the job, and another shows a gas plant exploding in fire at an unnamed location in Colorado. Another truly incredible video shows drilling rig workers engaging in a pipe-licking contest (video at left), where two men actually try to outdo each other for the length of time they can hold their tongues against an active, circulating vertical section of pipe.

DrillingAhead.com also links to a fascinating Flickr site featuring still photos of “Oilfield Accidents.” Photos show frightened workers clinging desperately to the railing of a severely listing offshore rig, an offshore rig sinking into the water, a truck impaled by oilfield equipment, rigs that have collapsed or caught fire (or both), and rigs completely encased in ice.

DrillingAhead.com gives a detailed inside look at the actual operation of drilling rigs around the world as seen by the workers themselves, and in so doing does plenty to undermine confidence — if there ever was any — in how drilling operations are carried out worldwide.

In fact, DrillingAhead.com provides ample justification to worry mightily about the safety and integrity of oil and gas drilling operations everywhere.

 

Lawsuit Blames Chicago Woman’s Death on Botox

Botox™, made of botulinum toxin, one of the most potent poisons in the world. Incorrect injection can cause death from symptoms of botulism.

A woman injected with cosmetic Botox at a skin care center in Chicago in May, 2011 developed symptoms of botulism and died, and her husband is suing the doctor who injected her.

In May, 2011, after receiving injections of Botox, Janet Rosenstern, 55, started suffering progressive generalized muscle weakness. She eventually became unable to hold up her neck. She developed weakness in muscles throughout her body, developed severe anxiety, truncal parasthesias (feelings of prickling, burning or tingling in the skin) dizziness, unsteady gait, muscle spasms and involuntary jerking-type movements in her abdominal wall.

She contacted her doctor immediately after her Botox injections and reported her symptoms, but the doctor was dismissive of her complaints. She went to the emergency room several times as her symptoms worsened.

After suffering with these progressively worsening symptoms for nearly a year, on April 22, 2012, she was found unconscious and died the next day.

Her husband, Klaus Rosenstern, is suing his wife’s doctor, Steven Dayan of the True Skin Care Center in Chicago, seeking damages for negligence, lack of informed consent, medical battery and wrongful death. He charges that Dr. Dayan failed to inform his wife of the known serious, debilitating and deadly potential side effects of being injected with Botox Cosmetic.

Botox is Allergan’s trade name for botulinum toxin, one of the most potent neurotoxins in the world. If it spreads through the body, it can cause death.

Janet Rosenstern was a registered nurse who is described in the lawsuit as a “high functioning” and “articulate” woman.

People who have had serious reactions from injections of Botox, like a woman in British Columbia who ended up paralyzed and in a wheelchair, are struggling to make others aware of the serious risks of being injected with Botox.

Source: Courthouse News Service, Tuesday, April 29, 2014

A Pattern of Proselytizing in Grand Junction Public Schools?

4640 Poster

Poster promoting Fellowship Church’s 4640 youth center, photographed at a local high school

 

On February 11, 2014, a sixth grader at Grand Mesa Middle School, a public school in Grand Junction, came home and handed his dad a flier promoting a hip, new youth recreation center in town called “4640.” The child said he and his schoolmates were shown a video during gym class about the 4640 recreation facility and that the name “4640” was derived from a section of the Bible meaning “John 6:40.” Students were instructed to pick up fliers and permission slips to use the facility after the presentation.

The “4640” youth recreation center belongs to Grand Junction’s Fellowship Church, and it’s one serious kid magnet. The fliers students brought home were release of liability forms that advertised 4640 had “spider jumps,” a “giant swing,” a “foam pit” and a “sports court.” The website for 4640 also touted a food court where,

“A couple bucks will buy you more junk food than your mom would approve of. We’re talking about snacks high in sugar, low in nutritional value — just the kind of fuel you need to have a blast with your 500 other Middle School friends!” **

and…

“Ever seen anybody eat a live cricket? Our Youth staff will do anything it takes to blow your mind.” **

Promotional posters for 4640 were also up at Grand Junction and Central High Schools. The posters (pictured above) did not mention that 4640 was actually at a church, that another exciting feature of the facility was a “worship pit,” or that kids using the facility would be subjected to religious indoctrination during their visits.

Luxury Retailer Barneys Features Transgender Models

Photo by Bruce Weber

Photo by Bruce Weber

The spring fashion ad campaign of luxury department store Barneys New York features seventeen transgendered models, most of whom have never modeled before. The campaign, titled “Brothers, Sisters, Sons & Daughters,” was shot in New York by renowned photographer Bruce Weber. The ads are an effort to raise awareness of a largely misunderstood community that has seen little progress towards acceptance over the last few decades. The photos feature the models posing with members of their support networks — friends, relatives and even pets — accompanied by a short summary of each model’s personal story. Barneys hopes that by giving the models and their unique personal stories national exposure, they will help increase social acceptance of transgendered individuals. Barneys partnered with the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) and the LGBT Community Center to create the campaign, and the retailer will donate 10 percent of all the sales it makes on February 11, at their stores or online, to the two organizations, with the total proceeds being divided equally between them.

Source: The Window (Barney’s blog), January 29, 2014

Seven Year Old Fights GMOs in Girl Scout Cookies

Seven year old Alicia Serratos is trying to get Girl Scouts to take GMO ingredients out of their cookies

YOU GO GIRL! Seven year old Alicia Serratos is trying to get Girl Scouts to take the GMO ingredients out of their cookies

Seven year old Alicia Serratos of Orange County, California has been a Girl Scout for almost three years, so when Girl Scout cookie season rolled around, Alicia got excited about the prospect of selling cookies to help raise money for her troop. But then Alicia and her mom read the ingredients on the cookie box and she found she didn’t recognize a lot of them and couldn’t pronounce some of them, either. Since she was six, Alicia has spent time learning about genetically-modified organisms and their dangers, like infertility and tumors. She knew that over 60 countries have either banned GMOs or forced companies to list GMO ingredients on their labels. Alicia recognized some of the ingredients in Girl Scout cookies as GMOs. She got alarmed that she was being asked to sell cookies made with GMOs, and so she wrote to the Girl Scouts and asked them to take GMO ingredient out of their cookies. Alicia also made a YouTube video asking Girl Scouts to remove GMO ingredients from their cookies, and started a petition on Change.org asking Girl Scouts to stop putting GMO ingredients in their cookies. She made YouTube videos showing how to make healthier, non-GMO versions of Thin Mints and Melty Mints, to prove it can be done. Alicia also created her own cookbook, called “Recipes to Grow,” with over 40 recipes for food kids love, all made from organic and non-GMO ingredients. Alicia will be selling her cookbook instead of Girl Scout cookies this year. She plans to donate proceeds from the book to help schools establish organic gardens on their grounds. So far, over 18,800 people have signed Alicia’s petition, and she’s trying to get 25,000 signatures. For its part, Girl Scouts of the U.S.A. is resisting efforts to get GMOs out of their cookies and towing the GMO-biotech line. In a response to the growing uproar about GMOs in their cookies, Girls Scouts says, in part:

“It is important to note that there is worldwide scientific support for the safety of currently commercialized ingredients derived from genetically modified agricultural crops. The World Health Organization, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, and the American Medical Association all share this assessment. In addition, in the future, GMOs may offer a way to help feed an ever-increasing world population.”

Time to Replace Anti-Science Delegate Marcia Neal on Colorado School Board

CO State School Board representative Marcia Neal wanted to block the teaching of climate change in schools

CO State School Board representative Marcia Neal wants to block the teaching of climate change in schools

(Update, April 3, 2014 – Marcia Neal announced she is running for re-election to the state school board.)

Everyone was surprised by last November’s school board election after Mesa County voters defeated three extreme tea party candidates openly supported by both the Mesa County Republican Party and a conservative billionaire from the other side of the state. Area voters not only rejected all three tea party candidates, but also the Mesa County GOP’s inappropriate attempt to politicize what has traditionally been a non-partisan race. Now Mesa County voters have an opportunity to make even more progress for education in 2014.

Our 3rd Congressional District State Board of Education delegate, Marcia Neal’s, term is up in 2014. Neal is yet another embarrassingly extreme, anti-education western slope representative who desperately needs to be replaced.

Atheist Census Results Coming In: Most Atheists are Highly Educated

Atheist CensusIn December, 2012, Atheist Alliance International launched the world’s first Atheist Census, a global online project to count and capture a snapshot of the world’s secular citizens. After getting hit with a denial-of-service attack 17 hours after its launch, the Atheist Census resumed operation and has been collecting data ever since. So far over 236,000 people have participated in the Census globally, and results can be broken down by country. By far the most respondents live in the United States, with 82,273 Americans responding to the survey. A majority of them, 65.1 percent, say they prefer to be called “atheists.” The second most popular title is “Humanist,” with 8.9 percent of respondents saying they prefer that name. A large majority (77.5 percent) of secular Americans report having come to atheism from a religious background in Christianity of Catholicism. Atheists are also a very highly educated group, with over 77 percent of self-identified atheists reporting that they have either a university or college degree or some postgraduate education. They are also a young group. Over three quarters of self-reported secular citizens are under the age of 45. Sixty-seven percent of respondents identify as male, and 32 percent as female. Country-by-country data is available at this link.

Mesa County GOP Gets Slapped at the Ballot Box

District 51 GOP school board candidate Mike Lowenstein: ""The people have voted and they'll get what they deserve."

“They’ll get what they deserve…,” said Mesa County GOP school board candidate Mike Lowenstein about voters, after finding out he lost the race. (Photo credit: Mike Lowenstein for School Board, http://mikelowensteinfor51d.com/)

All three District 51 School Board candidates endorsed by the Mesa County Republican Party — Mike Lowenstein, Patrick Kanda and John Sluder — lost in yesterday’s election, the same three who had also taken financial support from C. Edward McVaney, a front range billionaire and private religious school supporter. The defeat of the GOP/Tea Party slate of candidates in Mesa County was remarkable since historically the area votes overwhelmingly Republican and off-year elections tend to favor Republican candidates. But none of these factors combined were enough to help the local GOP pull off even one win in the race. The Daily Sentinel reported that at an election-night gathering of GOP candidates at the Blue Moon Bar and Grill in downtown Grand Junction, Mike Lowenstein, one of the GOP’s candidates, said simply, “The people have voted and they’ll get what they deserve,” and walked out of the restaurant. The GOP’s big local loss came on the heels of the multi-week federal government shutdown, largely attributed nationally to tea party Republicans’ intransigence over the new Affordable Care Act. By endorsing candidates in a school board race, the Mesa County GOP also tread onto new ground, turning a historically nonpartisan race into a partisan challenge. It is no coincidence that the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce has also become political at the same time the GOP has started weighing in on traditionally nonpartisan races, since there is significant overlap between local GOP leaders and the Chamber, and the two entities often appear to be working together politically. Chambers of commerce in smaller Colorado towns typically remain apolitical to avoid offending any citizens and business owners who may not agree with their views. But the GOP and Chamber’s strategy of weighing in on traditionally non-partisan races seems to be backfiring big time. In addition to the local GOP’s stunning losses in the school board race, the Grand Junction Chamber has faced significant backlash from area citizens and business owners who feel the group has far overstepped its boundaries by becoming highly political.