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Friday, April 30, 2004

Ambulance Chasers at the Minnesota Family Council are Successful

David Strand of Marriage Equality explains (from a post to a number of Minnesota Gay Political Elists).

After fishing for a company willing to bring a lawsuit against the city of Minneapolis since November, the Minnesota Family Council has found a willing business in Titus Construction of Burnsville. The National Alliance Defense Fund- a right wing religious legal fund headquartered in Scottsdale, AZ, is purportedly providing counsel pro bono to Titus Construction in a suit against the city claiming the Equal Benefits Ordinance violates the rights to freedom of religion of the owners' of the business by requiring the business to provide benefits to unmarried heterosexual couples and same sex couples in order to win a contract.

The suit should prove interesting as Titus Construction apparently does not offer services covered by the ordinance which applies to a limited category of city of Minneapolis contracts. Furthermore, Titus Construction can demonstrate no material harm since it apparently declined to apply for a contract so was never denied a contract on the basis of the ordinance.

Please stay posted for actions you can take to support the city of Minneapolis in light of this lawsuit. Hopefully, the city will not only stand firm but recover any costs brought about by this frivolous lawsuit from the plaintiffs.

David Strand
Marriage Equality MN


Now I thought the MFC got all it's undies in a bunch over "Activist Judges" - so if that's the case, why are they taking the City of Minnepolis to court?

Plot Thickens on Minneapolis Civil Rights Director

Pauline Thomas Weighs in...

Booker T Hodges appologizes for "Pot Tender" remark:

I would like to publicly apologize for calling Mrs. Khalifa's a “pot tender”, but at this time I still cannot support her for the position of Civil Rights Director.


He goes on about why here.

Jonathan Palmer responds:

Then I've gotten other email favoring Khalifa:

Rybak has chosen Jane Baccus Kalifa to be the Civil Rights Director and
I believe they will vote this Friday. She is professional, tough, fair... To call her an elitist is silly. She is a Link. When [my daughter] was a debutante she would come home with fun stories about her interaction with the other girls and she thought Jane was the most delightful!

Jane has my vote!


So I sent the following to my council member, Natalie Johnson Lee with a copy to Mayor Rybak:

Hi Natalie:

I've gotten two emails forwarded to me expressing concern with Rybak's choice of civil rights director - one with a column by Pauline Thomas savaging Rybak's choice for Civil Rights Director.

Assuming Ms Kalifa is dedicated to enforcement of the complete civil rights laws - and will not be quoted in the paper - as former St Paul Civil Rights Director Bob Battle was - saying gays are hijacking the civil rights movement - I think she sounds like a good choice.

I can't speak for the Northside - but I know in South Minneapolis Pauline Thomas did not speak for anyone except herself. I know many African Americans in the Central neighborhood who had real problems with Ms Thomas and her methods.


Mayor Rybak responded:

Thanks for this, Eva.
Jayne Kalifa has spent a career standing up for justice so I appreciate the fact that you are willing to be open to understanding her background. Jayne will absolutely not make statements like the one below...In fact, she was especially eloquent in her statements about the injustice of current attacks on the GLBT community and how important it is to speak out against this.

I've been pretty focused on my state of the city speech, which I just gave, so haven't had as much time as I'd like to have some chances for community members to meet Jayne...but that's going to happen next week...and I hope you have that chance.


I'm not totally sure of the spelling of Khalifa's name - I've seen both Kalifa and Khalifa. I look forward to meeting Ms Khalifa and coming to my own conclusions.

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Some in Black Community Unhappy with Rybak's Choice for Civil Rights Director

This showed up in my email:

Rybak has picked an elitist to head the Minneapolis Civil Rights department. The person he picked doesn’t even live in the city and is a member of several elitist organizations. The community will not put up with Rybak picking another POT TENDER to head the civil rights department. Rybak has picked a person that he can control and that is evident by the fact that he was able to persuade this person not to attend any community meetings. This person also resigned from their job on April 17 indicating that they already had been informed that they would be appointed to the position prior to the workshops that took place the past weekend. COMMUNITY MEMBERS WILL BE MEETING THIS THURSDAY AT 6:00PM AT THE MINNEAPOLIS URBAN LEAGUE TO DISCUSS HOW THE COMMUNITY CAN STOP THIS APPOINTMENT FROM HAPPENING. If you want to help in this process please attend this meeting. We cannot allow RT to continue to appoint people who will execute his Limousine Liberal agenda and protect the interest of the $500,000 home club.

Booker T Hodges
North side


Developing......

Toomey loses to Specter

Chuck Muth from the conservative group, Citizen Outreach comments:

ANOTHER BLOWN OPPORTUNITY

Sen. Arlen Specter defeated Rep. Pat Toomey in Pennsylvania’s nationally watched GOP primary race for the state’s U.S. Senate seat yesterday.

If conservatives can’t even defeat a liberal Republican in a Republican primary in a state with two Republican senators which went for the Republican candidate for president in 2000, what does that say about their ability to move conservative legislation through Congress, confirm conservative judicial nominees or defeat liberal Democrats in the general election? Yes, the reports that Toomey’s campaign and message were terribly flawed are true...but this choice for Republicans was still a no-brainer despite those problems. This race was billed nationally as THE fight for the soul of the Republican Party. And conservatives lost.

The only silver lining I can find is that Toomey was out-spoken in his support for the Federal Marriage Amendment and Specter was against it. Let this serve as a wake-up call to those who think the marriage amendment is the silver-bullet which will elect Republicans in November. Obviously, it’s no such thing. So can we just drop this issue and get back to taxes, spending, big-brother government and killing terrorists?


From a post to an Log Cabin Republicans list:

This seems an opportune time to highlight the major, as spelled out by Toomey, difference between Toomey and Specter. In a conversation with Chuck Muth this morning he said Toomey was telling the voters of PA that if they elected Specter they would stop the FMA dead in it's tracks and the only way to get the FMA passed was to elect Toomey. ... If it is true, LCR should thank the voters of PA for putting a halt to the FMA by electing Specter in the Primary.


Indeed. Thank you Pennsylvania!

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

New Mexico Readers Condemn Sandoval County Republican Chairs Remarks

This is an update on a previous item here.

From the Albequerque Newspaper Letters to the editor.


Political Assassination
THE SANDOVAL County Republican Party, especially Richard Gibbs, have shown they are the party of "compassionate conversatives" with their censuring of Sandoval County Clerk Victoria Dunlap.
I can understand the GOP censuring a party member, especially an elected official, for doing something that goes against the party platform.
What was totally digusting was Gibbs' comment that "other than assassination, all we can do is censure her."
I would think Gibbs owes Dunlap an apology for a comment like that. That comment was totally out of line and shows the small-mindedness of Gibbs.
RICK SALAZAR
Santa Fe

Disgrace to Republican Party
CONSIDERING THE irresponsible and inflammatory statement made by Richard Gibbs regarding censure of the GOP Sandoval County clerk, the Republican Party should now censure Mr. Gibbs for bringing "disgrace to the party."
TOM LOCKWOOD
Albuquerque


Chuck Muth mentions this story in his April 26 E Newsletter:


SO MUCH FOR RATIONAL DISCUSSION

“The Republican Party's central committee in northern New Mexico's Sandoval County, saying county Clerk Victoria Dunlap ‘has brought disgrace to the party,’ voted to censure her for issuing same-sex marriage licenses,” reports the Associated Press. "Other than assassination, all we can do is censure her," said committee chairman Richard Gibbs.

“Other than assassination”? That doesn’t sound like a very Christian attitude. Nice going, Chairman.


It's rather odd that the New Mexico Democrats haven't decided to run with this one. It's a free throw they aren't even trying for.

Monday, April 26, 2004

Minnesota Science Standards Minority Report pushes for Intelligent Design Creationism

Michelle Carter - a member of the Science Standards committee gives her take on the meetings of the Science Standards subcommittee.

I'm still not clear whether this minority report was included in the house version of the Science standards.

Dave Eaton, who attended the Willmar hearing, is also on the 9-12 Science subcommittee. He has been a vocal supporter of weakening the language regarding evolution (the only truly vocal ID member of the subcommittee), and handed out the Discovery Institute's "Unlocking the Mystery of Life" video to all 9-12 members. His expertise is clearly in the physical sciences, which is where he made most of his contributions to the committee, including equally vocal support for language regarding global warming and alternative energy sources.

Our last 9-12 meeting was spent reviewing the language proposed by the different strand groups. Big surprise, the only contentious section was evolution. During that discussion, Dave made the same allegation: that a complete high school education would have to include Intelligent Design because students are taught ID at the U of M. I asked him to repeat himself -- yes, indeed, he said, ID is taught at the U of M. I was quite taken aback, and did not follow this further at the time; however, when I got home that evening I searched the U's directory to check his assertion. I repeated that search today, using the terms "Intelligent Design" and "creationism".

Technically, he is right: "Intelligent Design" is indeed taught, but in the School of Architecture, as a computer assisted method of designing buildings. I don't think that is really what he meant. "Intelligent Design" in the anti-evolutionary sense is specifically addressed in the following courses, listed below:

"Darwin and the Modern World-View" General Honors course taught by Dr John Hallwas; 2 lectures devoted to creationism.

"Origins: By Chance or by Design?" sophomore honors colloquium taught by Dr Chris Macosko, professor of chemical engineering and materials science. Students read both pro- and anti-evolution texts.

"Science and Pseudo-Science: Thinking about Weird Things" sophomore Philosophy course, UM-Duluth; "a critical introduction to the nature of knowledge and belief ... which explains the differences between rational beliefs and articles of faith and between science and pseudo-science."

"Understanding the Evolution-Creation Controversy" taught at various levels by Dr Randy Moore (professor of Biology in General College): freshman seminar, honors colloquium (advanced freshman/sophomores), and Master of Liberal Studies seminar. This course places an emphasis on legal, political and cultural aspects of the discussion, and presumes that evolution is a biological fact.

"Analyzing Texts with a Rhetorical Spin" senior seminar in English Literature; taught by Dr Bridwell-Bowles; past texts have included political speeches, works of literature, evolution vs. creationism debates, and religious opposition to "Harry Potter".

"Science and State" Public Affairs 5000 level course (graduate/advanced undergrad) taught Fall 2002 by Dr Kenneth Keller; 1 lecture devoted to creationism.

In addition, creationism is specifically alluded to in context of "not science" according to the syllabi of the following courses:

"Humans and the Earth" General College freshman seminar; "Biological Principles" freshman Biology for majors; and "Ecology and Society" 3000 level course in Dept. of Ecology, Evolution & Behavior.

I would point out that all courses dealing extensively with creationism are either honors colloquia or advanced seminars, and that none of these courses are taught in the science departments. I for one will be prepared if Dave trots out this argument again.

Sunday, April 25, 2004

Do the Minnesota Science Standards Include Creationist IDiocy Now?

PZ Myers elaborates here and here.

From a post last week to mn-politics-discuss:

Seems like there's alot of double talk by Commissioner Yecke on this one. The MFC Website has a form by which people can send email to the entire Minnesota Legislature. I suggest people who live in Minnesota and are concerned about Science Standards here including coverage of evolution - and not to be watered down by "Intelligent Design Theory" - write to legislators using this form.

This is adapted from a post I made to MN Politics Discuss. In that post, I challenged Duane Quam - who regularly posts on that list - and is quoted here in this article. In the past he did send something on behalf of the commissioner when a Creationist sent a threatening letter to the Science Standards committee.

from the MFC website:

What will they teach our kids?

by Elizabeth Jenson
There is a lot at stake in the 2004 legislature. What will the state's
academic standards look like?

*********snip*************************

Science Standards
The teaching of evolution has been the major sticking point in Minnesota's science standards. Fairness, scientific evidence, and solid education standards demand that the theory of biological evolution (also known as Darwinian evolution) be balanced with other theories, and that students be exposed to the controversy that has defined this academic discipline for many years. Chris Macosko, University of Minnesota Professor of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science, explained why: "It is excellent practice in critical thinking and good for science students to learn about the controversy in such an important topic."


EY: Macosko knows nothing about Biology..... Having Macosco comment about biology standards would be like a biologist commenting on standards for tool and dye making......

The article continues with the "Santorum Amendment" nonsense.

When the Minnesota Department of Education held public hearings on the science standards late last year, most of those testifying requested that the standards include unbiased scientific evidence both for and against evolution. That reflects the sentiments of an important amendment offered in 2001 by U.S. Senator Rick Santorum (R-Penn.) to the federal Better Education for Students and Teachers Act? an amendment supported 91-8 by the entire Senate.

Specifically, the Santorum Amendment notes that "good science education should prepare students to distinguish the data or testable theories of science from philosophical or religious claims that are made in the name of science." It advises that "where biological evolution is taught, the curriculum should help students to understand why this subject generates so much continuing controversy, and should prepare the students to be informed participants in public discussions regarding the subject."

"The majority of the science standards are very good," said Duane Quam, a scientist and chairman of the science writing committee. "They establish a broad and factual knowledge base. But the standards lack an important balance."

That lack of balance is reflected in the overall absence of any instruction challenging the approved theory of evolution. This critical hole in the curriculum occurred because a majority of science writing committee members promised colleagues not to incorporate scientific evidence against evolution, ignoring Minnesota law that requires the standards to be objective. They also ignored the Santorum Amendment and public support for teaching objective science.


EY: Yup - this is the Duane Quam from this list [mn-politics-discuss]. This is an Urban Legend put forward by Creationists. This amendment was never passed:

The article continues:

A core of members of the writing committee disagreed with this move, however, and offered a minority report pointing out the lack of objectivity in the science standards. The minority report notes that the proposed standards do not give enough information about evolution to allow students to "understand the theory's weaknesses as well as its strengths." The minority report asks for two changes in the science standards: 1) that students learn the difference between micro-evolution and macro-evolution; and 2) that students will "be able to describe how scientists continue to critically analyze aspects of evolutionary theory."

"We don't have a hidden agenda," explained David Eaton, a committee member who signed the minority report. "We're not demanding creationism or intelligent design. We simply want kids to learn all the scientific evidence available ? not just evidence that favors evolution."

Those who signed the minority report seemed to agree that apart from the absence of the proposed changes to the teaching of evolution, the remainder of the science standards are by and large satisfactory. But some conservative observers fear that if legislators begin making additional changes there may be endless hours of debate. That could include interest groups lobbying to have their viewpoints taught. Julie Quist, director of the state's primary education policy group EdWatch (formerly Maple River Education Coalition), said: "Although there are other standards we might like to change, the document, with the acceptance of the minority report changes, is a good compromise."


EY: Actually this is just an effort to giving "equal time" to "Intelligent Design"..... Anyway - my question to Mr Quam: Do the Science Standards include this "minority report" in them? Is the MFC also the impetus behind our science standards?

UPDATE: Followups to this are posted on talk.origins.

Discovery Institute (Creationist Institute) Supports Minnesota's Science Standards

Here.

Talk.origins discussion.

From the discussion:

Discovery Institute: Earlier this summer, Commissioner Yecke publicly endorsed the "Santorum Amendment" as Congress's official policy on the subject, correctly noting that ?nowhere does this language mention intelligent design or creationism. Instead, it simply states the idea that children should understand that there is diversity of opinions and beliefs."

Pithecanthropus Erectus (tuibguy@comcast.net): I have witnessed the commissioner being corrected regarding the Santorum amendment, so she is aware of the fact that it is not the official policy of the Congress.

Discovery Institute:

However, benchmarks pertaining to neo-Darwinian evolution remain incomplete by failing to address the scientific controversy that exists surrounding the theory. An analysis that has come to be known as the "October 6, 2003 Proposal" addresses the draft?s shortcomings, suggesting improvements that include benchmarks stating "Students will be able to explain the limits of natural selection and random mutation to explain complexity," and that "Students will be able to explain the
controversy surrounding the origin of life."

Pithecanthropus Erectus (tuibguy@comcast.net) This mysterious 10/6/03 is actually the draft that showed on the Minnesota Education Dept.'s website prior to the commencement of the public meetings. Standards review committee members protested that it should not appear as their work, and the Minnesota Dpt of Ed staff claim that this was a mistake. The paragraph above indicates that it was not a mistake, that someone had intended it to be the presentation draft.