Dispatches > The Buzz

The Buzz

"The Buzz" Continued...

Issue: "Do the math," Nov. 7, 2009

Evolving hall

The Smithsonian's Museum of Natural History will celebrate its centennial next year by opening a new hall tracing what the federal museum calls a 6 million-year history of human evolution. The Hall of Human Origins will cost approximately $21 million and is to be funded by private donors-like David H. Koch, chemical engineer and executive vice president of Koch Industries, and Peter Buck, a physicist and co-founder of Subway restaurants-along with over $2 million from taxpayers. It is scheduled to open March 17.


"A million New Yorkers are good without God. Are you?" reads posters that go up Oct. 26 in New York subway stations. The campaign, sponsored by eight atheist organization known as the Big Apple Coalition of Reason, seeks to promote awareness of atheists in the city and, according to one spokesman, encourage "talking and thinking about religion and morality."

Virginia vote

With only days remaining before election day in Virginia, a SurveyUSA poll showed the state's Republican gubernatorial nominee Bob McDonnell with a 19 point lead over Democrat Creigh Deeds. If the margin holds, it would be the largest win for any Virginia governor of either party since 1961. The poll also shows McDonnell is drawing 31 percent of the African-American vote, another record-setting margin. Pollsters speculate that McDonnell, the former state attorney general, is doing well among blacks because he received an endorsement from prominent black businesswoman Sheila Johnson, a Democrat, while his challenger did not win endorsement from the state's leading black Democrat, former governor and Richmond mayor Douglas Wilder.


Sen. Olympia Snowe, the only Republican to vote for the Baucus healthcare bill in the Senate Finance Committee, has received a tangible protest: rock salt. Her Portland, Maine, office has received 115 pounds of the snow-busting stuff. The rock salt idea came from Erick Erickson at the blog RedState, who said Snowe "sold out the country" with her vote and therefore, "we should melt her." The Amazon rock salt seller he linked to, Ron's Home and Hardware, has received roughly 240 orders of rock salt to be sent to Snowe's office. The orders have come from all over the country, but Snowe's constituents are more likely to be pleased with her vote than not. A recent poll showed a majority in Maine supports a government-run health insurance plan.

Rome and Canterbury

In a step Vatican observers say has sweeping implications for relations between the Catholic church and some 80 million Anglicans worldwide, the Vatican announced Oct. 20 the creation of new ecclesiastical structures to absorb disaffected Anglicans wishing to become Catholics. The provision, known as an "apostolic constitution," will allow those Anglicans to hold onto their distinctive spiritual practices, including the ordination of married former Anglican clergy as Catholic priests. Anglicans would be able "to enter full communion with the Catholic Church while preserving elements of the distinctive Anglican spiritual and liturgical patrimony," said Cardinal William J. Levada, prefect of the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and an American. An apostolic constitution is the highest level of decree that the pope can issue and underscores the historic nature of the action. It "recognizes the reality of the divide within the Anglican Communion and affirms the decision to create a new North American province that embraces biblical truth," said Martyn Minns, head of the Convocation of Anglicans in North America, who said it also underscores the urgency for the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury "to keep the Anglican family together."


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