GREECE, N.Y.

Atheist delivers ‘prayer’ in town that won court fight

An atheist cited the freedoms promoted by the Founding Fathers as he delivered the opening invocation Tuesday at a town meeting in a community whose leaders won a U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding the right to start their gatherings with a prayer.

“On July 4, 1776, the 56 men, who pledged their lives to the document that changed the course of history, agreed to the central tenet that, ‘Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,’” Dan Courtney, a 52-year-old mechanical engineer critical of the 5-4 Supreme Court decision, said at the monthly meeting of the Greece town board.

The court’s conservative majority declared the prayers in line with national traditions and said the content is not significant as long as the prayers don’t denigrate non-Christians or try to win converts. The town argued persons of any faith were welcome to give the invocation.

SACRAMENTO, Calif.

Water officials step up fines as conservation efforts fail

California water regulators voted Tuesday to approve fines up to $500 a day for residents who waste water on lawns, landscaping and car washing, as a report showed that consumption throughout the state has actually risen amid the worst drought in nearly four decades.

The action by the State Water Quality Control Board came after its own survey showed that conservation measures to date have failed to achieve the 20 percent reduction in water use sought by Gov. Jerry Brown.

Survey results released before the 4-0 vote showed water consumption throughout California had actually jumped by 1 percent this past May compared to the same month in previous years.

GUANTANAMO BAY

Officer gets reassigned after resisting force-feeding policy

In the first known rebellion against Guantanamo prison’s force-feeding policy, a Navy medical officer recently refused to continue managing tube-feedings of prison hunger strikers and was reassigned to “alternative duties.”

Cori Crider, an attorney for a hunger striker said the conscientious objector’s dissent took “real courage … none of us should underestimate how hard that has been.”

– From news service reports