Tag: education

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.

 

 

 

“Liebe” Means Anything but “Love” in Grand Junction

Paul Liebe's un-family-friendly banner outside his business, NiteLife Billiards on North Ave.

Paul Liebe’s family-unfriendly banner outside his business, NiteLife Billiards on North Ave.

Paul Liebe is the owner of NiteLife Billiards at 2882 North Ave. in Grand Junction. “Liebe” means “love” in German, but unfortunately Mr. Liebe does not project a loving front to many area citizens. His business’ slogan is “We Deliver Family Fun,” but Mr. Liebe is far from family-friendly. R-rated is more like it, at a minimum.

Liebe, a gun proponent who bills himself as a “public figure” on his Facebook page, recently made headlines for selling “open carry” T-shirts printed with a realistic-looking handgun in a holster. The shirts come with a dire warning letting people know that actually wearing the shirt can lead to death if the wearer encounters police and they mistakenly think you are wearing a real gun. In short, don’t put these shirts on your kids — they aren’t  family-friendly, or friendly in any way at all.

Liebe’s personal attitudes are far from family-friendly, too, and so is his language. On February 13 he posted on his publicly-accessible Facebook page: “If you don’t like what I post, get the FUCK OFF MY PAGES,” and “…I don’t give a shit if your FEELINGS get hurt.”

Yikes.

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.

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.

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.

Mesa County GOP in Takeover Mode, Now Seeks Control of School Board

Linda Gregory (Photo Credit: YouTube)

Linda Gregory (Photo Credit: YouTube)

On October 16, the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel reported that front range billionaire C. Edward McVaney had donated substantial funds to the three local “tea party” candidates in the District 51 School Board race: Patrick Kanda, John Sluder and John Lowenstein. The candidates admitted they didn’t even know who McVaney is, but took the money anyway. Soon after that report, the Sentinel revealed in a follow-up article that McVaney’s money came with strings attached:  the candidates were told to spend the funds on the campaign consulting services of Mark Baisley, who also lives and works on the front range. So who is Baisley?  He is vice chair of the Colorado Republican Party, and a Republican strategist and PR guy. A post on Baisley’s Facebook page reveals he believes that politics boils down to God versus Democrats, for one thing.  But even more interesting to locals should be a post on his page dated September 22, which appears to have been written by Linda Gregory, Chair of the Mesa County Republican Women (McRw).

An Example of How Professors Became Whores for Industry

In this 1993 application for grant funding, Professor David M. Warburton of the University of Reading in the United Kingdom asks cigarette maker Philip Morris (PM) for £32,000 to perform a study on the human use of legal substances, like alcohol, caffeine, chocolate, food, tea and tobacco.  Warburton told PM he believed the outcome of the study would “show that it is the total abstainer from substance use who is abnormal.”  Philip Morris had previously funded Warburton from 1991-93 in the amount of $250,000.  Warburton also organized and implemented the tobacco industry-funded front group “Associates for Research in Substance Enjoyment” (ARISE). ARISE “scientists” toured Europe between 1988 and 1997 promoting the idea that smoking was good for people and actually boosted immunity and extended life because it relieved stress and people enjoyed it. Several tobacco companies including Philip Morris and British American Tobacco funded the group secretly at arm’s length, and operated it through a UK-based PR firm which formed a “secretariat” to administer the group — a business structure that made it difficult to uncover the group’s funding.

In 2001, after ARISE had run its course, Professor Warburton (apparently in need of more funding) released a study showing that people are intimidated by television chefs, whom he said elevate pressure on average people to produce excellent dishes at dinner parties. These fears were causing a new syndrome to emerge, that Professor Warburton called “Kitchen Performance Anxiety” (KPA).  The physical symptoms of KPA, according to Warburton, included mental blocks during cooking, a rapid heart rate, difficulty in breathing, nausea, and headaches.  Warburton concluded that KPA was causing fewer people to hold dinner parties.  BBC actually did a news report on KPA that highlighted the following comment from Prof. Warburton: “It is interesting that many guests don’t expect perfect food and would prefer that their host or hostess concentrated on good company and wine.” The “study” Warburton performed in which he discovered Kitchen Performance Anxiety was commissioned by the makers of the Piat d’Or wine. See the BBC report on KPA here. Professor Warburton is now an emeritus at the University of Reading, which promotes itself as among the top 1 percent of universities worldwide.

Arizona House of Representatives Hosts First Atheist Invocation

AZ State Rep. Juan Mendez

AZ State Rep. Juan Mendez (D-Tempe)

State Representative Juan Mendez of (D-Tempe) made history May 22 by giving the Arizona state legislature’s first secular invocation in place of the body’s usual morning prayer. Rep. Mendez began by asking legislators not to bow their heads as they usually do, but instead to take a moment to look around the room “at all the men and women here, in this moment, sharing together this extraordinary experience of being alive and dedicating ourselves to working toward improving the lives of the people in our state.” He then cited the challenging debates, moments of tension and ideological division and frustration legislators experience, but asked his colleagues to focus more on what they have in common than on their differences. He concluded by quoting Carl Sagan. Afterwards, Rep. Mendez came out as a non-theist at a press conference. As he spoke to the press and media, a group of people stood behind him holding signs that said, “One in Five.” Rep. Mendez pointed out that one American in five, or 1.3 million Arizona citizens, choose not to affiliate with a religion.

Christian Group Distributes Bibles at Public Schools, Gets Pushback

The book secularists plan to give away at Orange County, Florida high schools when they get their  date to distribute literature from the school district

The book secularists plan to give away at Orange County, Florida high schools when they get their date to distribute literature from the school district

An Orange County, Florida school district allowed the Christian group World Changers of Central Florida to distribute Bibles to high school students at eleven area high schools on January 16, 2012, by placing the books on tables near the school’s lunchroom. Orange County secularists who were offended by the overt advertisement for Christianity on public school grounds has asked the school district to change its policy to disallow distribution of religious materials on school grounds. If the school district refuses to change the policy, members of American Atheists and Central Florida Freethought Community say they will ask the school district for a date on which they can distribute information to students about atheism and humanism in the same manner.  World Changers’ mission is to promote prayer in public schools and push to have creationism taught in public schools.

Stealth Anti-Science Bills Disguised as “Academic Freedom” Bills

Creationist cartoonThe National Center for Science Education is warning that a bill introduced in the Colorado House of Representatives on January 16,  HB13-1089 (pdf), called the “Academic Freedom Act,” is really a trojan horse anti-science bill. The bill directs teachers “to create an environment that encourages students to intelligently and respectfully explore scientific questions and learn about scientific evidence related to biological and chemical evolution, global warming, and human cloning.” It sounds innocent enough, but such bills use an “academic freedom” guise to tacitly permit teachers to misinform students by allowing the teaching of creationism as a scientifically valid alternative to evolution, or by allowing teachers to misrepresent evolution as being scientifically controversial. The last time such an anti-evolution bill was introduced in Colorado was in 1972, when a lawmakers tried to put a measure on the ballot that would have allowed “all students and teachers academic freedom of choice as to which of these two theories, creation of evolution, they wish to choose.” That measure never made it onto the ballot. All of the primary sponsors and co-sponsors of Colorado’s 2013 “Academic Freedom Act” in both the House and the Senate are Republicans. These tricky, shifting strategies state and local school boards, state legislatures and teachers are using to undermine the teaching of scientific subjects like evolution, climate change and cloning are described in depth an article published in a September, 2010 article in the Annual Review of Genomics and Human Genetics titled Dispatches from the Evolution Wars: Shifting Tactics and Expanding Battlefields

Praise Jesus and Pass the Taxpayer-Funded Football

Logo of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, whose mission is to use school athletics as a platform to spread Christian evangelism

Logo of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, whose mission is to use school athletics as a platform to spread Christian evangelism

Christian evangelicals are hard at work recruiting young athletes into Christianity in publicly-funded schools all across the country, and taxpayers are footing the bill. The injection of Jesus into school athletics is being carried out by the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), a Christian group that encourages and rewards school sports coaches for using their influential positions to spread Christianity among youth.

For those who are unfamiliar with FCA, it is a Christian religious group whose existence is dedicated to turning school athletic departments into missionaries for Christ. FCA’s website states, “The purpose of [FCA’s] Campus Ministry…has been to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with the lost and to seek and grow a mature follower of Jesus Christ. The ‘win’ of Campus Ministry is to see campuses impacted for Jesus Christ through the influence of coaches and athletes.” An answer to the question of “What is FCA?” on the group’s website states, “Since 1954, FCA has been challenging coaches and athletes on the professional, college, high school, junior high and youth levels to use the powerful medium of athletics to impact the world for Jesus Christ.” FCA also encourages coaches to conduct Bible studies on campus.  The group is open about its use of the platform of athletics to spread Christian “evangelism, discipleship, outreach and fellowship.” One of FCA’s corporate sponsors is Chick-Fil-A, the fast-food restaurant chain whose president, Dan Cathy, expressed strong views against same-sex marriage in a July, 2012 interview in the Biblical Recorder.

“Robin Hood Tax” Proposal Gains Global Support

Nurses rally in Chicago to support the Robin Hood Tax

Nurses led a rally in Chicago May 18 ahead the NATO summit to boost the idea of instituting a “Robin Hood Tax,” a tiny tax on financial institutions’ transactions that would be used to offset drastic cuts in education and social services, and provide health care to Americans. Also called a Financial Speculation Tax, the tax has the support of Warren Buffett and Bill Gates, as well as President Hollande of France, Chancellor Merkel of Germany, Prime Minister Zapatero of Spain and other world leaders, as well as Nobel prize winning economists Joseph Stiglitz and Paul Krugman. The Robin Hood Tax on bankers would be less than one-half of one percent on deals over $100, and would apply to transactions like trades in derivatives, stocks, bonds and foreign currency exchanges. The charge would total less than one half on one cent on every $100 worth of transactions. Most ordinary people worldwide would never feel it, but experts estimate it would generate hundreds of billions of dollars each year to fight poverty and support public services like education and health care. National Nurses United teamed with National Peoples’ Action and local community groups to organize the rally. The were joined by veterans, members of the Occupy Movement, unions and others. The rally was part of a “global week of action” in support of the Robin Hood tax, with rallies also happening in Europe, Africa and on Mount Fuji in Japan.