Bush Senior says atheists are not citizens

This is an unusual quote from George Bush’s 1987 Presidential election campaign:

Robert Sherman: Surely you recognize the equal citizenship and patriotism of Americans who are atheists?

George H.W. Bush: No, I don’t know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under God.

I found this quote via Kevin Drum’s Political Animal, and it would be fair to say that its provenance is hotly disputed in the comments.

But, what I find most interesting, speaking from the perspective of a Brit who has lived in the States, and is therefore not entirely clueless about US politics, is that I have no problems in believing that a Republican US politician could think that this was either:

  1. Actually true
  2. A politically astute way of appealing to the religious vote

Either of these options is damaging for the integrity of American politics.  If a politician doesn’t believe atheists should be citizens or, worse, doesn’t care but is prepared to sell them out for votes, then one day atheists could actually lose their right to be citizens.

No Canadians please, we’re multi-cultural here

An odd news article from South Korea, which looks like an April fool, but was published on 29 March.

In a classified ad in KScene, a free biweekly magazine, World Class describes itself as a group that “brings together all nationalities to discuss world issues and break down cultural barriers and prejudices.”

Breaking down the prejudices, however, doesn’t extend to all countries. “No Canadians please,” the ad continues.

When contacted by a Korea Herald reporter by e-mail, the organizer of the group, Bernard Carleton, elaborated further, “The thing is, CANADIANS ARE SCUM! They are self-loving, welfare supporting, over taxing, work ethic hating scum!!! They are not welcome in our group.”

I’m going with the April fools joke posted early theory, purely because one of the main universities in Ottawa, Canada is called Cartleton University.
I studied there for a while, and based on my purely unscientific observation of going out and meeting people, Canadians are very nice people.  So there.

(Via The Marmot’s Hole).

Russian birth rate goes up

Doesn’t sound terribly exciting, does it?  But the recently reported 20% birth rate increase could be the difference between life and death for the Russian state.

From 8.7 births per 1,000 people in 2000, it has gone to 10.4 in 2004, state statistics show.

Such figures compare favourably with other countries, notes leading Russian obstetrician Vladimir Serov: Germany recorded a rate of 8.3 births per thousand last year, while for Japan it was 9.5 and, in the UK, 10.8.

Since the tail end of the Soviet Union, the Russian population has plummeted at a rate of 5% (or around 750,000 people) per year, leading to predictions from the UN that, by 2050, Russia could have lost a staggering one in three of its population.

Russia still has to address some pretty fundamental problems – alcoholism and AIDS to name but two at the beginning of the alphabet – which contribute to a high death rate and an alarmingly low life expectancy for men.

But I wonder if this news could mark a turning point in Russia’s fortunes?