The weekly report on US and International policy
by Edwina Rogers


Earth’s Climate Agenda┬á- The Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works have held a hearing on ÔÇ£Road to Paris:┬áExamining the PresidentÔÇÖs International Climate Agenda and Implications for Domestic Environmental PolicyÔÇØ. ┬áSecular Policy Institute┬ástaff have attended this event.┬á




Expanding Our Knowledge, Historic Pluto Mission - The New Horizons spacecraft has completed a historic fly-by of Pluto, NASA says, making its closest pass at 7:49 a.m. ET.  The unmanned, piano-sized spacecraft was traveling at nearly 31,000 miles per hour when it passed about 7,750 miles above Pluto. 

New Horizons will continue traveling out into the Kuiper Belt, a region scientists think is filled with thousands of other small, icy worlds. Scientists say the probe will continue sending back data about Pluto for several months. ┬áNew Horizons was launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on Jan. 19, 2006, and traveled more than 3 billion miles to reach Pluto. It’s the first mission to Pluto and its five moons.

The mission completes what NASA calls its initial reconnaissance of the classical solar system: The space agency has now sent probes to Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto.


Critical Thinking And Education -  Over the past several weeks the the SPI has contacted every senate office with a research paper and amendment request for SPI member organization Foundation For Critical Thinking.  We are seeking language that makes it more clear that professional development funds to states can also be used for training teachers in critical thinking.critical-thinking1


Faith-Based Charities Want To Expand Discrimination With Taxpayer Funds┬á- SPI and other organizations through Americans United are signing a letter to the Obama Administration to review and repeal the Bush-era OLC memo that asserts that┬áthe┬áReligious┬áFreedom┬áRestoration┬áAct (RFRA)┬áprovides a blanket override of statutory┬áprohibitions on┬áhiring discrimination. ┬áThe Obama Administration┬árecently cited this memo┬áto allow┬áreligiously affiliated┬áVAWA┬ágrantees┬áto ignore VAWAÔÇÖs ban on religious hiring discrimination┬áin its funded programs. ┬áAnd the┬áNational Association of Evangelicals, U.S. Conference of┬áCatholic Bishops, and others are seeking to extend the memoÔÇÖs reach and have just┬ácited┬áit┬áto claim that they can refuse to perform services required by a federal grant┬áor contract┬áif they have religious objections. For more information about faith-based abuse, please read this comprehensive report by SPI.