Nutball bigots force school closure over class writing a single sentence in Arabic

A meaningless image in parts of the United States

Schools in Augusta County in Virginia were closed Friday and a weekend holiday concert and athletic events were canceled amid an angry backlash about a school lesson involving the Islamic faith.

Officials said they had not received any specific threats but were alarmed by the volume and tone of the complaints, including some from outside Virginia…In response, additional police were stationed at county schools Thursday.

In a statement, school officials said: “We regret having to take this action, but we are doing so based on the recommendations of law enforcement and the Augusta County school board, out of an abundance of caution.”

Anger over the lesson has escalated since a teacher at Riverheads high school had students in her class complete an assignment one week ago. It involved practicing calligraphy and writing a statement in Arabic.

The statement translated to: “There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.”

At a forum Tuesday, one parent said the assignment promoted a false religious doctrine, while other parents expressed outrage. Some demanded that the teacher be fired…

School officials said the aim of the lesson was to illustrate the complexity of the written Arabic language, not to promote any religious system.

In a statement, district officials said they will use a different example of Arabic in future classes.

The assignment was given by Cheryl LaPorte, a longtime teacher at Augusta County Schools, in a World Geography class at the high school. In the course of learning about different regions around the world, the Staunton News Leader reports, students also study the regions’ culture, which includes its predominant religions.

I have this problem with devotees of religion as a component of patriotism. Using mythic ideology to justify bigotry and ignorance is not an excuse for shutting down education. The fools who forced this are as much of an embarrassment to Americans as individuals as it is to the whole nation.

Kiwis lead in religious liberty — Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster OK’d for marriages

Pastafarians, rejoice! New Zealand has now granted the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster the legal right to perform marriage ceremonies — and just in time for ChriFSMas!

…The Church of FSM came into its own in 2005 as a response to the proposal that the fundamentalist Christian theory of Intelligent Design be taught alongside evolution and natural selection in Kansas public schools. Adherents to the church, known as “Pastafarians,” are sometimes seen sporting their religious head coverings — colanders — in passport and official identification photos from countries around the world. While many insist that the Church of FSM cannot possibly be a serious institution, the church’s official website offers this rebuttal:

“The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, after having existed in secrecy for hundreds of years, came into the mainstream just a few years…Some claim that the church is purely a thought experiment or satire, illustrating that Intelligent Design is not a science, just a pseudoscience manufactured by Christians to push Creationism into public schools. These people are mistaken — The Church of FSM is legit, and backed by hard science. Anything that comes across as humor or satire is purely coincidental.”

New Zealand Registrar-General, Jeff Montgomery, explained the decision to grant Pastafarians the right to officiate marriages to

“In considering the matter, I have referred to the Objects of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, reviewed material available online about this organization and considered other organizations already being able to nominate marriage celebrants.

“A review of media and the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster’s international website show a consistent presentation of their philosophies. While some claim this is a ‘parody organization,’ members have rebutted this on a number of occasions.

“As registrar-general, it is my role to apply relevant legislation . . .”

Congratulations to Pastafarians everywhere!

CERN’s potential new particle discovery is a game changer

The team at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland may have discovered a new particle. In its first set of significant results since the upgrade earlier this year, LHC researchers have observed large spikes in energy that could be the result of particle collisions between a new boson even larger than the Higgs.

If it turns out that the data does indeed represent a new particle it would be “a total game changer,” Gian Francesco Giudice, a CERN theorist who wasn’t involved in the discovery, told Nature. “The Higgs boson pales in comparison, in terms of novelty.”

The results appear to confirm speculation about a new discovery at the LHC that has been circulating on social media for the last couple of days. Judging by the results, the particle — if it is a new discovery — would be about four times larger than the top quark, the heaviest particle so far discovered. And it would be six times bigger than the Higgs.

The announcement comes after the researchers spotted unexpected spikes in energy that reflect a collision between super-high energy protons. The different teams working at the LHC have similar results — they both saw an excess number of pairs of photons each carrying around 750 gigaelectronvolts (GeV) of energy. They believe this could have come from the decay of a new 1,500 GeV particle…

The reason CERN has published the results — which it wouldn’t normally do with so little evidence — is that both the Atlas and CMS teams saw the same thing. Atlas saw 40 incidences of the 750 GeV energy pairs, and CMS saw 10.

But it could just be a statistical bump, which occurs all the time. “We expect about ten times as much data next year, which should help resolve this question – but quite likely throw up new ones,” Dave Charlton continued.

The researchers expect to verify whether this represents a new particle or just a bump in 2016.

Between Congressional beancounters and a guy named Clinton in the White House offering wimp-class support, the attempt to build a superconducting super-collider in the United States failed. It would have been three times more powerful than the Large Hadron Collider v1.0.

We had lots of money and time left after that to devote to the Crusades in the Middle East, Homeland Insecurity and the War on Terror, though. American politicians surely know how to organize priorities, eh?