October 13th Newsletter Roundup

Through our weekly newsletter, we like to let you know about our upcoming events as well as a number of issues and campaigns that we think might be of interest to you. Let me know if you have any suggestions to include in future roundups. Email: secretary@bchumanist.ca

And for the latest news items, be sure to like the BC Humanists on Facebook and follow @BCHumanist on Twitter.

DISCLAIMER: The opinions which appear in the newsletter and in this roundup of all the news which didn't fit within the newsletter are not necessarily shared by all or even most of the members and board of the BC Humanist Association.

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This past Sunday, over 40 of us enjoyed a brilliant and whimsical yet frightening presentation by the PEN Canada / Ken Filkow prize winning artist Franke James. Through her perseverance, James was able to uncover evidence that bureaucrats and deputy ministers in the federal government effectively censored a planned European art tour, due to her "controversial" views on climate change and the oil sands. The complete story of this Kafka-esque experience is documented in Franke James' book Banned on the Hill and in her latest blog, "Oh No Canada! Six easy ways to crush free expression".

If you didn't make it on Sunday, you can watch Franke James' talk on our YouTube channel.

 Humanist Action

It's easy to say we're good without god, but it's time to put those words into action. Be a part of our Humanist Action campaign and help out with the following causes we're supporting.

First, please donate to our fundraiser for Médecins Sans Frontières in support of Syrian refugees. So far we've raised $400 of our $1000 goal. I know we can do better than this. Donate here by clicking "Sponsor event".

Second, join our Light the Night team in support of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. The walk is on October 17th in Stanley Park. If you can't make it, sponsor one of our walkers.


Winter Solstice Dinner

Join us on December 19th, 2015 for our annual Winter Solstice Dinner at the Brockhouse Restaurant on Jericho Beach. Tickets are $50 and vegetarian options are available. Buy your tickets here.


Upcoming Events

On Sunday, October 18, 2015, at the Oakridge Seniors Centre, Gurmail Gill of the Tarksheel (Rational) Cultural Society will be speaking to us about Humanism and rationalism in the Indian community.

On Sunday, October 25, 2015, at the Oakridge Seniors Centre, local feminist activist and the founder and Executive Director of the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada, Joyce Arthur will speak on the manufactured scandal created by a recent series of scurrilous "gotcha" videos from the Christian right in the US, falsely purporting to show that Planned Parenthood is selling baby parts for medical research.

On Sunday, November 1, 2015, at the Oakridge Seniors Centre, we will be showing a video of Sam Harris and Maajid Nawaz, in a panel discussion at Harvard, speaking on the new book on which they have collaborated: Islam and the Future of Tolerance.   Maajid is a former fundamentalist Islamist who is now working to reform Islam. 

On Sunday, November 8, 2015, at the Oakridge Seniors Centre, we will have a presentation by Marylen Reid on The Therapeutic Value of Touch.

See all upcoming events.

BCHA Book Club

The November book club selection is Thinking, Fast and Slow, by Dan Kahneman.  The meeting will be on Tuesday, 3 November, 2015 at 7pm at Goldis and Kirsten's home.  At the beginning of that meeting, we will decide on the selection for the February 2, 2016 meeting.  There will be no January book club meeting.

The December book club selection is Waking Up by Sam Harris. The meeting will be on Tuesday, 1 December, 2015 at 7pm at Goldis and Kirsten's home.  At the beginning of that meeting, we will decide on the selection for the March 1, 2016 meeting.  There will be no January, 2016 book club meeting.

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Doors open for our Vancouver meetings at the Oakridge Seniors Centre at 10:00 am for BYO coffee, tea, and socializing. Please help us welcome all attendees by introducing yourself and asking about themselves (if you are comfortable doing that). We want all attendees (and especially first-timers) to feel welcome and part of our Humanist community. At 10:30 am we start our presentation. The meetings take place at the Oakridge Seniors' Centre at the West side of the Oakridge Mall at 41st and Cambie. There is a Canada Line station which exits right into the mall.

Check the BCHA Vancouver Meetup page for more details on the meetings mentioned above and for what we have lined up into November and beyond. Also, please RSVP there, so that Meetup members have an idea of how many people usually attend these meetings. Please be aware that while we do our best to ensure that the scheduled programs go ahead as scheduled here, there are no guarantees and last minute changes may be necessary due to circumstances beyond our control.

More News

The most critical Canadian federal election in over a decade will take place on Monday, October 19, 2015.  To help you decide which party best reflects your wishlist of how the various issues facing Canadians should be dealt with, the CBC has come up with Vote Compass. After answering questions about your attitudes to a list of issues, the app ranks the parties running in the general election according to how well their platforms line up with your responses. The above video shows how this application was used in Australia's last federal election.

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More bad news about the Trans Pacific Partnership has surfaced from Wikileaks this past week. The CBC and Canada Post may be sold to private corporations if the deal is ratified. Please consider clicking this link to register your demand that the full text of this agreement be made public before the election on October 19.

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Michael Wilson of the Vancouver Observer has written an insightful article on how Conservative policies promote wealth inequality and undermine the standard of living of the majority of Canadians, leading to scenes like the above photo of clients of a local food bank.

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The Busby, Alberta school board is continuing to insist on mandatory school prayers despite pleas from the mother of an elementary school student to end the practice. Apparently, their God is so thin skinned that he will be hurt if not everyone bows their head to Him at least once a day, whether or not they believe He exists. 

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The Surrey InterFaith group met on October 2nd with BCHA board member Gordon Leslie in attendance.  One of the events they have scheduled is a conference on climate change on 17 October 2015.  Please click the link for details.

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Trevor Noah of The Daily Show demolishes the lies and hypocrisy of the GOP candidates pandering to the Christian "gotcha" videos which falsely purport to show Planned Parenthood conspiring to sell babies for parts. His contrast between their fake outrage over legal abortions and their "stuff happens" attitude toward gun violence is brilliant.

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California has the distinction of being the first state to crack down on deceptive anti-abortion "crisis pregnancy centers" which provide misleading information to women in an effort to prevent them getting an abortion. For more on how these centres have infected British Columbia, read Joyce Arthur's 2009 report for the Pro-Choice Action Network.

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Possibly due to opposition to pipelines and oil trains in Canada, the Pacific Northwest of the USA is being targeted by Shell Oil as a route to bring dangerous and environmentally destructive oil trains to the West Coast for export. In light of the Lac Megantic oil train disaster in Quebec, there is considerable reason for people near the proposed route to be concerned. 

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The Jumma people of Bangladesh are in danger of being exterminated.  Please consider signing the petition to demand the government of Bangladesh protect these indigenous people against colonization of their traditional territories.

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More hopeful signs of the beginnings of winding down the failed war on drugs emerged this week when the US Justice department announced 6000 federal prisoners will be released at the end of the month, with a possible 46,000 more to follow as sentencing guidelines are being revised to relieve overcrowding in prisons in the country which has (in proportion to its general population size) more prisoners than China and other countries which are not renowned for respecting the civil rights of their citizens. 

The Christian Right is once again fulminating about how the recent Oregon school shooting was by an atheist targeting Christians.  The Friendly Atheist, Hemant Mehta, sets the record straight.

In case we needed any more reasons to push back against the drive toward theocracy, this video (also from The Friendly Atheist) explains why its author thinks it is a good idea to put to death anyone who doesn't submit to this guy's version of Christianity.

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John Lennon would have turned 75 on October 9, 2015 had he not been murdered. The Freedom From Religion Foundation has a podcast in memory of this likely atheist and Humanist.

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Tanzanian authorities have arrested "The Queen of Ivory", hopefully extending the date by which African elephants are scheduled to go extinct by a couple of years.  She's the one in the middle of the photo.  She is responsible for the illegal sale of $2.5 million worth of poached elephant tusks.

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A bit of good news for those of us who value biological diversity: The Tasmanian Devil may be rescued from the brink of extinction by a new vaccine which prevents the spread of Devil facial tumour disease.

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Stephen Hawking has come out with an interesting insight into the dangers of the (probably inevitable) rise of Artificial Intelligence: The AI itself will not be a problem, but wealth inequality will be.  This ties into the movement toward a Guaranteed Annual Income, something which will be the topic of a future BCHA Sunday meeting (November 22, 2015 at the Oakridge Seniors Centre) when Nick Taylor of Basic Income Vancouver will be speaking.

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Here is a fascinating article from theoretical physicist Lawrence Krauss explaining the implications of the Nobel Prize winning discovery that some neutrinos have mass (which was shared by a Canadian). Basically, it means that physics is still incomplete and there is still more to be discovered - and more importantly, that the surprising discovery of an infinitesimal mass associated with neutrinos is the first step on the path to further revisions to the standard model of quantum physics.  

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And finally, a cartoon explaining how the Invisible Hand of the Market convinced Volkswagen to create software to cheat on emission tests of its diesel cars, enabling it to sell cars in California which emitted 40 times the pollutants allowed by law.

Other roundups

Not getting enough news through our weekly updates? Check out the blog CanadianAtheist.com as well as the regular roundups of Canadian secular news from Secular Lynx and the weekly updates from the International Campaign to End Blasphemy Laws.

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