New Hampshire now the least religious state in the United States

❝ New Hampshire is the least religious state in the U.S., edging out Vermont in Gallup’s 2015 state-by-state analysis…Mississippi has extended its eight-year streak as the most religious state, followed closely by neighboring Alabama…

Hmmm. Think education has anything to do with this?

❝ Gallup classifies Americans into three religious groups based on their responses to a question measuring religious service attendance and how important religion is in their daily life.

Very religious Americans are those who say religion is important to them and who attend services every week or almost every week.

Nonreligious Americans are those for whom religion is not important and who seldom or never attend religious services.

Moderately religious Americans meet just one of the criteria, either saying religion is important or that they attend services almost every week or more.

❝ Gallup began tracking several religious indicators on a daily basis in 2008. Some of these indicators have shown significant change over this time, most notably the percentage of Americans who report no formal religious identity when asked to name their religious preference. But the percentage classified as very religious on the basis of their attendance and view on the importance of religion has stayed remarkably stable.

Yup. My view on the not-usefulness of religion hasn’t changed since 1951. Been an atheist ever since. Extended the depth of that understanding through studies in science and philosophy in following years.

Gay couple seeks spousal privilege protection in Kentucky

A same-sex couple in Kentucky have asked a judge to grant them the same protections given to heterosexual couples after a woman has been subpoenaed to testify against her wife.

Bobbie Jo Clary, 37, is accused of murdering a man in Louisville in October 2011 and could face the death penalty if convicted. The prosecution subpoenaed her partner, Geneva Case, 49, to testify against her.

The defense filed a motion to block the subpoena, citing spousal privilege, which protects married couples from having to testify against each other in most US jurisdictions. Clary and Case were joined in a civil union in Vermont in 2004, five years before the state legalised same-sex marriages.

The prosecution said it wants Case to testify because she allegedly heard Clary admit to the slaying and has other valuable information as a witness. Clary has admitted she was with the victim, George Murphy, 64, on the night of his death and says she used a hammer to defend herself after he sexually assaulted her.

Kentucky, a famously conservative state, though currently helmed by a Democratic governor, exempts spouses from testifying against each other in court. However, the state does not permit same-sex marriage and affirmed its opposition to the practice by amending the constitution in 2004 to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

“If they were a heterosexual married couple, there would be no question that Kentucky would acknowledge the privilege and not even have issued the subpoena,” said Case’s attorney Bryan Gatewood.

A ruling on the spousal privilege is expected by the end of the month. The murder trial is set to begin 30 August.

Dark Ages dwellers in Kentucky may or may not decide to act like folks who believe in democratic rights in this case. I don’t expect so. Most Americans who cling to bigotry and discrimination as holy writ tend to continue such practices as if the Constitution and Bill of Rights never existed.

Fortunately, this will make another sound case to bring before the Supreme Court that should bring one or another of the overtly Republican justices in line with American legal traditions.

Vermont decriminalizes possessing small amounts of marijuana


Gov. Peter Shumlin signed legislation making Vermont the 17th state to approve decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of marijuana.

This change just makes common sense. Our limited resources should be focused on reducing abuse and addiction of opiates like heroin and meth rather than cracking down on people for having very small amounts of marijuana,” Shumlin said…

The law, which Shumlin signed Thursday, replaces criminal penalties with a civil fine for adults who possess an ounce or less of the drug.

The legislation also treats minors less than 21 years of age who possess an ounce or less the same as minors possessing alcohol.

They will be referred to a court diversion program for the first offense, and be subject to potential civil penalties or a license suspension for the second and criminal penalties for a third violation, the governor’s office said.

I get to say “overdue” for the seventy-eleventh time. If this keeps up, I may eventually search for a recipe for something like Alice B Toklas bran muffins. I don’t smoke anything.

Vermont passes law aiding Death with Dignity

Vermont will become the fourth state to make it legal for a physician to prescribe lethal medication to a terminally ill, mentally competent patient who wants to end his life. It has also become the first state to approve the practice through legislation, instead of via a public referendum (as in Oregon and Washington) or a court decision (in Montana).

The Vermont House of Representatives approved the measure by a 75-to-65 vote on Monday night, after 17-to-13 approval in the Senate last week. Gov. Peter Shumlin has said he will sign it into law…

Supporters of what advocates call “death with dignity”…have been introducing similar legislation in Vermont since the mid 1990s. In the only previous vote, a bill went down to defeat in the state house in 2007.

Given polls that consistently show broad support among Vermont voters, a referendum might well have passed years ago, said Michael Sirotkin, one of the lawyers representing the group Patient Choices at End of Life Vermont. But the state doesn’t permit ballot initiatives, so organizers turned to the legislature.

I’d say this is actually a harder path, because often the public is ahead of legislators on controversial issues,” Mr. Sirotkin said…

…When the law takes effect after the governor signs it, it will initially closely follow the Oregon model, with numerous statutory procedures and safeguards meant to protect patients against coercion or changes of heart. It adopts the same 15-day waiting period between the patient’s first request for medication and the second, for example, and requires a second physician’s evaluation.

But three years later, those requirements drop away, and a lethal prescription for a mentally competent patient expected to die within six months becomes largely a private matter between doctor and patient.

I guess I’ll never wear out using the word, “overdue”. As much as I tease folks here in the Southwest that what I miss most about New England are legislators with backbone and brains – there aren’t a whole boatload of progressive laws being passed that I wouldn’t have voted for fifty years ago.

I honestly believe that a culture of fairness and knowledge could have instituted an end to bigoted laws dividing civil rights, use and possession of mood-altering substances, the right to a death with dignity – decades ago. And ordinary folks would have voted against sending our military off to fight wars all over the globe for the glory and advancement of corporate America.

Vermont senators OK bill to decriminalize an OZ of pot

OZ pot

The Vermont Legislature gave final approval…to a bill that would decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana and hashish, clearing the way for the bill to be signed into law by a supportive governor.

The legislation would do away with criminal penalties for possession of up to an ounce of marijuana and five grams of concentrated hashish derived from cannabis for people at least 21 years-old. Instead, those of legal age who are charged with possession within those amounts will face civil fines akin to a speeding ticket.

Alex Bullett, a 25-year-old who is originally from Maine but has been living in White River Junction for more than a year, described the law as a “step in the right direction toward legalization,” which he said would be “really good for everybody” as a revenue generator for the state…

Bullett…pointed to Colorado and Washington’s recent legalization of the recreational drug, estimating that the federal government’s prohibition on marijuana would soon be coming to an end.

“Within the decade, (the federal government) is going to have to give in on their sort of obscene war on drugs,” he said. “It hurts us more than it helps us.”

The legislation approved yesterday would align Vermont with other nearby states that have decriminalized marijuana possession, including Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New York and Rhode Island. It leaves New Hampshire as the last hold-out in New England when it comes to stricter marijuana possession laws.

Overdue. RTFA for all the right reasons. But, then, if you made it this far on my blog – you probably already know the right reasons. 🙂

Dumbest revenge ever – for a minor pot bust!

Rene Morris was at work at DelaBruere Auto Sales Thursday when he heard some unusual sounds coming from next door at the Orleans County Sheriff’s Department.

“I felt like I was in a monster jam rally or something,” said Rene Morris, who witnessed the crash.

But police say that monster jam rally was actually 34-year-old Roger Pion of Newport driving over and crushing seven police vehicles with a massive tractor.

“I just couldn’t believe it, just backing up going over it, turns around makes his way to the other vehicles smashes those up,” said Morris…

“We came out and sure enough someone had run over our cruisers with a tractor,” said Chief Deputy Philip Brooks, Orleans County Sheriff’s Department.

The Sheriff’s Department secretary saw the tractor go by before the rampage, but didn’t think twice about it.

“I mean it is Vermont. No, nobody saw it happen,” said Brooks.

After the demo-derby happened in Derby — Pion was arrested a mile and a half away in Newport by other officers. Sheriff’s Deputies couldn’t chase him, because they had no cars on site. Pion’s been in trouble with the law before. He was arrested this past month by the Newport City police for marijuana possession. There’s speculation — the car crushing was revenge…

Police say Pion took out more than half of the sheriff department’s fleet — some of its newest vehicles were only four months old. Damages could be as much as $300,000.

Idiot. The local Tea Party will probably bail him out for his “defense” of individual liberty.

An Atheist’s Credo

George P. Spencer of Lyndon Center, Vt., died in 1908 at age 83. His epitaph is inscribed on the sides of a granite monument:

“Beyond the universe there is nothing and within the universe the supernatural does not and cannot exist. Of all deceivers who have plagued mankind, none are so deeply ruinous to human happiness as those impostors who pretend to lead by a light above nature. Science has never killed or persecuted a single person for doubting or denying its teachings, and most of these teachings have been true; but religion has murdered millions for doubting or denying her dogmas, and most of these dogmas have been false.”

Rock on, George!

Thanks, Ursarodina

Vermont farm vs War on Terror

Dangerous band of Insurgents

In Vermont, the federal government plans to seize a farmer’s land to build a $5 million border post on a quiet country road. The community is fiercely opposed, and the Department of Homeland Security is under fire for planning expensive projects that some say isn’t needed.

The hamlet of Morses Line is just a dot on the Canadian border in the small northern Vermont town of Franklin. A quiet country road leads to the existing brick border station at the edge of a hayfield.

In about two hours on a recent afternoon, one truck and two cars go by. One was a Customs officer arriving for his shift.

“Last night was a little busier because you had bingo at the church in the neighboring town,” says Brian Rainville. The land the U.S. government wants is part of his family’s dairy farm. Rainville goes through a box full of documents and pulls out the architectural drawings for the new border post.

“So we’re looking at putting in a storm water pond, a traffic turnaround, covered parking, three designated traffic lanes, two stages of radiation detectors, a two-story building with a fitness center on the second floor. It all strikes me as a little much for Morses Line,” he says.

“I’m not quite sure how Morses Line, with a traffic rate of 2 1/2 cars an hour, is a matter of national security and utmost budgetary importance…”

Continue reading

World-class conman captured crossing from Canada to U.S.

They will be watching Juan Carlos Guzmán-Betancourt very closely at his jail in Vermont.

The last time the silver-tongued Colombian conman with a taste for the high life was locked up he walked out of a British prison after persuading the authorities to let him go to the dentist on his own.

But after illegally crossing the border from Canada, the man who British police have likened to the legendary US conman Frank Abagnale, played by Leonardo DiCaprio in the film Catch Me If You Can, now faces the prospect of up to eight countries and the US state of Nevada asking for his extradition…

The Colombian has at least 10 identities and has been pursued in Canada, Colombia, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Thailand and Venezuela. He’s been convicted of larceny in Virginia and New York and credit card fraud in Florida, and deported from the US three times.

RTFA. I can never resist reading about a good con.

Excluding Congress of course.