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Toni Van Pelt interviewed on First Coast Connect radio show hosted by Melissa Ross. Listen Now 
Strong support for the critical Federal data sources Dear Chairmen Cochran and Frelinghuysen and Ranking Members Leahy and Lowey: We write to provide our perspective on, and to express our strong support for, the critical Federal data sources that inform and strengthen our nation’s world-leading economic, educational, democratic and civic institutions and successes.   Our Federal statistical and data systems provide information that is uniquely accurate, objective, relevant, timely and accessible. America’s families, firms and policymakers are able to make informed decisions because they have open access to this unbiased high- quality information.   We are concerned that a lack of appreciation for the critical importance of our Federal statistical and data systems may worsen, and are worried that, after years of insufficient funding, these systems face deeper funding cuts and further marginalization.
156 Civil and Human Rights Groups Call for Stronger Response to Hate Incidents WASHINGTON –The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and 155 civil and human rights groups today called upon the Executive Branch to respond more quickly and forcefully to hate-based incidents, which have been occurring at an alarming rate in recent months.  The statement follows: “Our diversity is part of what makes America great, and incidents motivated by hate are an affront to the values we share. No one should face acts of violence or intimidation because of their race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, disability, or national origin. Just this year, we have seen an alarming increase in accounts and reports of hate-based acts of violence and intimidation. Some recent examples include: The February shooting in Olathe, Kansas, where two Indian Hindu Americans were attacked, killing Srinivas Kuchibhotla; Four mosques burned in the past two months, in Texas, Washington, and Florida, and more defaced by acts of vandalism; Numerous bomb threats against Jewish Community Centers, synagogues, and ADL offices around the country; The recent shooting in Washington state of a Sikh American outside of his home;  Racist graffiti targeting African Americans in Stamford, Connecticut and at a high school in Lake Oswego, Oregon; An attack on a Latino man in Daly City, California, and an attack on a Hispanic woman in Queens, New York, with both targeted because of their ethnicity; The murders of seven transgender women of color, including six African Americans and one Native American. While we welcome President Trump’s remarks to the joint session of Congress, where he noted ‘we are a country that stands united in condemning hate and evil in all of its very ugly forms,’ it was the first public acknowledgement he had made on specific recent events.  It is clear that the President has been slow to respond to hate incidents, when he has responded at all.  We strongly believe the President has a moral obligation to use his bully pulpit to speak out against acts of hatred when they occur. (Read More)
A (FREETHINKING) WOMAN’S WORTH A Book Review Women Beyond Belief: Discovering Life WITHOUT Religion, edited by Karen L. Garst. (Pitchstone Publishing, Durham, North Carolina, 264 pp., 2016, ISBN: 9781634310826, Paper, $16.95.) In the 1990s I edited The Black Humanist Experience: An Alternative to Religion. It was a collection of essays by humanists of African descent (including myself) discussing our personal paths to humanism. Humanist writer Karen Garst has come out with the same kind of book by and for nonreligious women; and it does not disappoint. There is much to recommend here. However, Sylvia Benner’s “Of faith, feminism and master narratives” is especially noteworthy. Benner contends that “…third wave feminism…has no aspirational characters to offer for women (and certainly not for men.”) (p. 138) (Read More)
Statement of Toni Van Pelt on Senator Artiles Senator Artiles must resign or be removed from office. He does not recognize his privilege and his misuse of that privilege.  His 'apology' was  clearly a political calculation. His racist, misogynistic, drunken tirade taints the entire Florida Senate if they do not take action. "The defense of first amendment free speech is specious and repellent. His use of hate speech is harmful to our culture. When children and adults see and hear people in authority using bullying language and posture it gives them permission to act out in the same awful way. It is simply unacceptable in a civilized society that values each of us equally. He must go." declares Toni Van Pelt, president of the Institute for Science and Human Values. Senator Artiles has besmirched the position he holds and has brought shame to the Florida Senate and Governor Rick Scott if they do not remove him from office immediately.
Toni Van Pelt