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Posted to WIDK by Jenn Flanagan
(Daily Mail) – A national association that says there’s no proof for the existence of God is managing a scholarship fund set up for a teenage atheist at the centre of a dispute over a prayer banner at a Rhode Island school.
The American Humanist Association says 16-year-old Jessica Ahlquist was targeted with online threats after she challenged the constitutionality of the display at Cranston High School West.
It says she stood up against her critics ‘with class and style’.
On January 11, U.S. District Court Judge Ronald Lagueux ordered the banner removed.
Judge Laguex ruled that the presence of the 49-year-old banner violates the separation of church and state according to the Constitution’s First Amendment while displaying a passage written by a former student titled: school prayer.
The banner was covered by a tarp as the Cranston School Committee planned a hearing to decide whether or not to challenge the ruling.
On Thursday, the committee decided not to appeal by a vote of 5-2.
Since Miss Ahlquist sued the school for the prayer banner’s removal, protesters have expressed their anger through online commentary, cruel messages, thwarted yet planned student walk outs, and even t-shirts supporting the banner’s display though also expected removal.
One woman posted her reaction to Miss Ahlquist’s efforts over Twitter writing: ‘I hope there’s lots of banners in Hell when you’re rotting in there you atheist f***.’
Another sent her a message saying: ‘How does it feel to be the most hated person in RI? You’re a puke and a disgrace to the human race.’
An investigation led by school officials working with local police over several harassing messages resulted in one student’s internal discipline, according to The Providence Journal.
Combating the ruling’s criticism, blogger Hemant Mehta started a campaign at the Friendly Atheist website to raise money for Ahlquist.
The Friendly Atheist says the fund has brought in more than $40,000 through tee-shirts reading ‘Evil Little Thing.’
Those three words were used to describe her in a recent radio talk show by Democrat Cranston Representative Peter Palumbo, according to WPRO.
Pro-banner supporters have released their own t-shirt designs as well, selling for $5 for the banner’s possible removal and preservation which is described as being glued to the wall, similar to a fresco-style of artwork, according to t-shirt designer Bobby Bach of Bobby Bach Events who spoke with a contractor examining its removal.
Mr Bach told MailOnline they have already sold hundreds in the past two weeks chipping in toward an estimated cost of $15,000 for its safe removal, according to Mr Bach.
The fundraiser for Miss Ahlquist runs through the end of February.
I started my diet today.
And then I found this picture to taunt me!
(The Smoking Gun) – In another instance of harmony in post-racial America, a white Aryan Nations member joined forces with a black gang member to distribute methamphetamine in Missouri, according to federal investigators.
The partnership between white supremacist Richard Treis, 38, and Robert “Biz” Swinney, 22, was torn asunder by an undercover Drug Enforcement Administration probe that resulted in this month’s indictment of Treis, Swinney, and five codefendants on a variety of drug distribution and conspiracy charges.
According to investigators, Swinney allegedly marshaled a network of friends, relatives, and fellow gang members in St. Louis to purchase decongestants containing pseudoephedrine from various stores.
Swinney then allegedly sold the pseudoephedrine to Treis, who cooked it down into meth.
The odd couple is pictured in the above mug shots.
If convicted of the various felony charges, each man faces decades in prison (where they would be unlikely to share a cell).
Treis’s rap sheet includes a November 2004 federal conviction for pseudoephedrine possession (he was spotted buying large quantities of the drug at Target and Walmart). Sentenced to 63 months in prison, Treis was released from Bureau of Prisons custody last June. He was on probation from that narcotics conviction when busted in the current case.
(Daily Mail) – The Montana math teacher allegedly choked to death and then buried in a shallow grave in North Dakota was the victim of a crack-fueled, seemingly random abduction, an affidavit filed in the case has revealed.
It offers the first details of what police believe happened to 43-year-old Sherry Arnold after she went missing during a morning run on January 7.
The affidavit is based on the alleged confession of Michael Spell, 22, a suspect in the case along with Lester Waters, 47, both from Colorado.
Spell told the FBI he felt guilty when he saw missing posters after helping bury Arnold’s body on a farmstead 45 miles from where she was snatched.
The alleged kidnapping took place just blocks from Arnold’s house in Sidney, where investigators later found one of her running shoes.
Police arrested the men a week later after Spell’s girlfriend said he had confided in her about the kidnapping, AP reported the affidavit as saying.
Spell and Waters had left Colorado days before the crime claiming they wanted work in eastern Montana and western North Dakota’s oil fields.
After smoking crack cocaine over the entire trip, Waters allegedly told Spell the drug ‘brought the devil out in him’ and began talking about kidnapping and killing a female, AP reports.
After they spotted Arnold, Spell claims that Waters told him to ‘grab the lady’ and pull her into their Ford Explorer as she jogged by.
‘Spell said Waters got into the back seat with the female and “choked her out”,’ the affidavit states.
After dropping Arnold’s body in a rural area of North Dakota later that night, Waters bought a shovel at a nearby Walmart. They buried the body in a two- to three-feet-deep hole on an old farmstead.
Waters returned the shovel to Walmart three days later, the affidavit says.
When he was arrested a week later, Waters was carrying a receipt that showed he had purchased bread, bologna and a shovel the same night Arnold went missing, according to the affidavit.
Spell was arrested on January 13 in Rapid City, South Dakota. He told police he had hitchhiked there after fearing Waters would kill him.
Police have still not found a boyd. They have asked property owners in rural eastern Montana and western North Dakota to look for disturbed soil in agricultural areas.
Williams County Sheriff Scott Busching said on Friday that numerous leads have come in as a result, but so far none have panned out.
‘We’ve checked a lot of spots but we haven’t found anything yet,’ Busching said.
Arnold, who would have turned 44 Monday, grew up on a ranch outside town and taught math for the past 18 years at Sidney High School.
She she was known for being a caring and competent teacher. Her husband, Gary, still works for the school system. Together they raised five children from previous marriages.
Aggravated kidnapping carries a potential death penalty in Montana unless the victim is released unharmed. The minimum sentence is two years in prison and a fine of up to $50,000.
Waters has a lengthy criminal background in Florida, where he lived until after his most recent release from prison in August 2010.
Charges against him included possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, sale of cocaine, petty theft, burglary, failure to pay child support, contempt of court, resisting an officer and multiple counts of driving with a suspended license.
Spell has prior arrests in Colorado on charges of drug possession, contributing to the delinquency of a minor, sexual contact without consent, careless driving and driving without a license.
Charges filed against Spell in a pair of 2007 arrests were later dropped, although it was unclear on what grounds.
The most recent charges came in 2009 after Colorado authorities said Spell asked a middle-school student to text other students and ask them if they wanted to buy marijuana.
He was scheduled to be arraigned in that case in January. But Spell was given permission by a judge to leave Colorado just days before Arnold disappeared, after claiming his brother had been in a car accident in Texas.