Bill Nye Says he Underestimated Debate's Impact
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - TV's "Science Guy" Bill Nye says he didn't expect his February debate in Kentucky on evolution and creationism to draw a huge online audience.
Nye says when he agreed to the debate at The Creation Museum with its founder Ken Ham, he thought it "would get about the same amount of notice as a nice college gig."
Nye offered his thoughts on the event and why he agreed to it in a letter published in Skeptical Inquirer magazine. He said, "It was an opportunity to expose the well-intending Ken Ham and the support he receives from his followers as being bad for Kentucky, bad for science education, bad for the U.S., and thereby bad for humankind."
Ham responds that what's bad is teaching kids "that they're just animals, there's no God" and "there's no ultimate purpose and meaning in life."
The event was streamed live on the Web and can still be watched online. Ham estimates it's been seen by 14 million people.
Classes Resume at High School Rocked by Stabbings
MURRYSVILLE, Pa. - Classes have resumed at a Pittsburgh-area high school where authorities say a student stabbed or slashed 21 others and a security guard last week while rampaging through a hallway with two kitchen knives.
Before school Wednesday, some students gathered on the football field behind Franklin Regional High School in Murrysville to pray and to support one another.
As other students arrived, they were greeted by well-wishers from a nearby church who were holding signs of support.
Suspect Alex Hribal, 16, is being held in a juvenile facility but is charged as an adult with aggravated assault and attempted homicide in the stabbings. Police have said he took the knives and attacked students at random as they arrived at school. Four students remained hospitalized.
Texas Town Still Recovering from Deadly Blast One Year Ago
WEST, Texas - Residents of the Central Texas town of West have been helping and praying for each other in the year since a massive explosion at the town's fertilizer plant killed 15 people, leveled nearby homes and schools and left a 93-foot crater.
Holly Harris's husband was a firefighter who died in the April 17, 2013, blast.
Harris says, "I don't understand why this happened or how it could have been prevented." But she adds, "I hold faith in God that he's got control of this."
The Rev. John Crowder, pastor of the First Baptist Church of West, says at least one-fourth of the town of 2800 people was devastated by the explosion. Donations processed through his church helped pay for the demolition of dozens of under-insured homes.
The town also has received $20 million dollars in federal assistance and $8 million from the state, and Gov. Rick Perry's office says the state has approved an additional $4.8 million in disaster assistance.
Crosses Displayed in Ohio Village Challenged
COLUMBUS, Ohio - The Freedom From Religion Foundation is protesting a pair of crosses displayed for Easter on an Ohio village's municipal building.
The Wisconsin-based group has challenged the claim by the mayor of Stratton that it's constitutional to display the crosses during holidays.
Mayor John Abdalla temporarily removed the crosses in January after the foundation threatened to sue, but he returned them to celebrate the Easter season. One of the crosses is Latin and the other Eastern Orthodox.
Abdalla told the Steubenville Herald-Star that such seasonal displays are permissible and that he planned to remove them at the end of April. Easter is this Sunday.
End of NYPD Muslim Surveillance Program Applauded
NEW YORK - Arab and Muslim groups are applauding the decision by New York Police Department officials to disband a controversial unit that tracked the daily lives of Muslims as part of efforts to detect terror threats.
The Demographics Unit assembled databases on where Muslims lived, shopped, worked and prayed. Plainclothes officers infiltrated Muslim student groups, put informants in mosques, monitored sermons and catalogued Muslims in New York who adopted new, Americanized surnames.
The tactic was detailed in a series of stories by The Associated Press and became the subject of two federal lawsuits.
Linda Sarsour, the executive director of the Arab American Association of New York, applauded the decision to disband the unit but said there's still concern about the police use of informants to infiltrate mosques without specific evidence of crime.
Man Alleging Pork Poisoning Back to State Hospital
ST. MARYS, Pa. - A Pennsylvania man is going back to a state hospital until he's competent to stand trial on charges he threatened his mother with a 10-inch kitchen knife because he believed she was trying to "poison" him with pork in violation of his Muslim beliefs.
The Bradford Era reports that 26-year-old Joshua Coffey, of St. Marys, has been ordered back to Torrance State Hospital after his attorney told an Elk County judge that Coffey still isn't mentally competent.
The attorney wanted Coffey to plead guilty last month and be sentenced to time he's already spent incarcerated since the June 2013 incident, but says Coffey has stopped taking his psychotropic medications.
Police say Coffey's mother and another man were eating when Coffey claimed he was fed pork "which was against his Muslim religion" and went berserk.
20 Killed as Islamic Extremists Rampage in Nigeria
ABUJA, Nigeria - Suspected Islamic militants have struck for a fourth time in three days in Nigeria, killing 20 people according to local government and security officials.
The attacks in northeastern Nigeria come after Monday's explosion that killed 75 people in the capital Abuja and Tuesday's abduction of about 100 female students taking final exams at a school in the northeast. All but eight of them have since escaped or been freed.
A condemnation from the 57-state Organization of Islamic Cooperation said the abduction "tarnishes the good image of Islam" and emphasized the importance of girls' education in Islam. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the "The targeting of schools and school children is a grave violation of international humanitarian law."
Israeli Police Enter Holy Site to Disperse Riot
JERUSALEM - Israeli police say they stormed a Jerusalem holy site to disperse a riot.
Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld says Palestinian rioters hurled stones and firecrackers on Wednesday from atop the compound known to Jews as the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism. Rosenfeld says police then entered the site and dispersed the rioters with tear gas and other non-lethal means.
The compound is known to Muslims as the "Noble Sanctuary" and is Islam's third-holiest site. Israel captured the area from Jordan in the 1967 war. Clashes often erupt after Muslims conclude their prayers at the site.
Jews typically pray below at the Western Wall but tensions have grown lately with an increased number of Jews arriving to pray at the Temple Mount as well. Israel permits Jews to ascend to the Temple Mount for visits, but they are barred from praying at the site.
Pope Gives a Lift to 2 kids in St. Peter's Square
VATICAN CITY - Pope Francis has given a lift to two lucky kids during his general audience in St. Peter's Square.
A particularly jovial Francis hopped off his white, open-air car Wednesday to greet a group of fifth graders from central Italy who presented him with a T-shirt from their school. Seemingly joking, Francis asked if any of them wanted to take a spin through the square.
"Me! Me! Me!" they yelled. Francis picked two 11-year-olds, who hopped aboard. One of them said later, "I was really excited. That never happens!"
Francis' sense of humor was also on display later, as he joked that a monsignor, who was forced to cut short a reading because of a nagging cough, was "getting old."
Jury Convicts Ex-Priest in Sodomy Case
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - A jury in Louisville, Ky., has convicted a former Catholic priest of three counts of sodomy in a case stemming from the 1970s.
The Jefferson County Circuit Court jury also convicted 66-year-old James Schook on Wednesday of one count of indecent or immoral practice with another. The jury is to return Thursday for sentencing.
Schook did not testify in the trial that began on Monday.
Richard Whitfield, now in his 50s, testified that he and Schook carried on a years-long sexual relationship that began when he was 13. The other alleged victim, Michael Stansbury, said he had one sexual encounter with Schook.
Schook's attorney challenged the witness accounts, saying they may not be able to accurately recall their ages and the dates of the alleged abuses.
Schook has been diagnosed with skin cancer and sought several delays to the trial.
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