October 6th 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.


This last week saw two terrible tragedies.

On Thursday, yet another shooting occurred, this time at Umpqua Community College in Oregon. A lot has already been said about this but I'll point you to the frustrated call by President Obama for real gun control and to John Oliver's message that these tragedies are the worst time to discuss mental health issues, but if politicians insist on it then they should at least do something.



Then on Saturday morning, twelve Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières staff members were killed in an aerial bombardment by US forces of its Kunduz hospital in Afghanistan. MSF has condemned the actions in the "strongest possible terms" and is calling for an independent international body to investigate the attack "under the clear presumption that a war crime has been committed." The BC Humanists are currently fundraising to support MSF's work in Syria and I encourage you to donate in solidarity with their doctors and staff members.

The world needs reason and compassion more than ever.

Ian Bushfield, Executive Director


The Citizenship Handbook

At our most recent Sunday Meeting in Vancouver, Conrad told us his story of discovering the meaning of being a Canadian citizen after leaving the Jehovah's Witnesses. While serving on the board of the BC Civil Liberties Association, he got to play a part in the publication of their Citizenship Handbook, which can be read on the BCCLA website for free.

Conrad ended his presentation with political columnist Andrew Coyne's depressing analysis of Canada's "Broken Democracy." However, since that speech there have been at least two small but positive steps toward a healthier democracy. The first is the news that Michael Chong's Reform Act became law last year and the second being the launching of the Leap Manifesto which calls for a more sustainable Canada.


Dying With Dignity Pre-Election Rally

On Saturday, we joined Dying With Dignity and a crowd at the Vancouver Art Gallery in support of physician assisted dying. Our past president Sue Hughson introduced Ian Bushfield, executive director of the BC Humanists, and Katherine Hammond, daughter of Margot Bentley who's been fighting to die with dignity. Thanks to Glen Brauer (creator of Calopia), you can watch the speeches on YouTube.

The deadlines for the consultations have been extended. Submit your response to the Ontario-led provincial consultation on physician assisted dying before October 1 and to the federal consultation before November 1For more details read our response to the consultations.

The BC Civil Liberties Association has also published a thorough blog on dying with dignity, outlining the importance of the consultations and the responses from the major political parties. I encourage you to read and share that piece.


 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 11, 2015, at the Oakridge Seniors Centre, Franke James, winner of the inaugural Pen Canada / Ken Filkow prize, will be showing us her quirky and inspiring presentation titled My Dangerous Art,  the story of how her dream come true of having a European tour of her art was crushed by political pressure from the Canadian federal government on the tour's sponsoring NGO.

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 fascist 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. 

BCHA Book Club

The October book club selection is Harperism by Professor Donald Gutstein. The October book club meeting will be on Tuesday, 6 October, 2015 at 7 PM at Goldis and Kirsten's home.

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 January 5, 2016 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 February 2, 2016 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 October 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

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It's official, the Trans Pacific Partnership trade agreement has now been completed. Many progressive organizations have warned about the horrific implications of this secretly negotiated deal for everything from free speech and equal access on the internet to the ability of national and local governments in signatory countries to enact and enforce laws related to environmental protection and labour conditions. Even the UK's Guardian newspaper account of the deal, while trying to be impartial about the implications, reveals a small fraction of the downsides for ordinary citizens of the countries involved of this massive give-away to multinational corporations. 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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Chris Westdal, a Rideau Institute Senior Advisor, also has the distinction of having been the only Canadian Ambassador to both Ukraine and Russia. He recently gave a talk to the Institute of European, Russian and Eurasian Studies at Carleton University in Ottawa, entitled: Russia, We hardly Knew Ye. - See more at: http://www.ceasefire.ca/?p=22429#sthash.0895d68q.dpuf
Chris Westdal, a Rideau Institute Senior Advisor, also has the distinction of having been the only Canadian Ambassador to both Ukraine and Russia. He recently gave a talk to the Institute of European, Russian and Eurasian Studies at Carleton University in Ottawa, entitled: Russia, We hardly Knew Ye. - See more at: http://www.ceasefire.ca/?p=22429#sthash.WnzJOcUA.dpuf

Harper will not be part of the solution to the Russia-Ukraine crisis, according to Chris Westdal, a Rideau Institute Senior Advisor, who also has the distinction of having been the only Canadian Ambassador to both Ukraine and Russia. He recently gave a talk to the Institute of European, Russian and Eurasian Studies at Carleton University in Ottawa, entitled: Russia, We hardly Knew Ye. 

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The recent school shooting in Oregon has inspired another spate of articles in Scientific American which present rational, evidence-based solutions to the ongoing problem, and which will probably be ignored by the NRA lobbyist inspired "We need more good guys with guns" crowd.

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I normally wouldn't publicize events in Bellingham, WA, but in this case, it is for a very good cause.  Tig Notaro, who recently had a hilarious comedy special on HBO, is holding a fund raiser for Planned Parenthood at the Mount Baker Theatre this coming Thursday, 8 Oct 2015 at 7pm. Given the ongoing vicious campaign by Forced Unplanned Parenthood activists, this is an issue we should support. 

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The evidence for modern-day liquid water flows on Mars presents challenges to prevent contamination with earth based microscopic life as well as an historic opportunity to once and for all confirm the extremely likely hypothesis that Earth is not the only planet harbouring life.

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Here is a petition from WalkFree.org demanding the World Bank apply pressure on the Uzbeki government to stop using forced, unpaid labour (aka slave labour) to harvest their cotton crop. 

Chris Westdal, a Rideau Institute Senior Advisor, also has the distinction of having been the only Canadian Ambassador to both Ukraine and Russia. He recently gave a talk to the Institute of European, Russian and Eurasian Studies at Carleton University in Ottawa, entitled: Russia, We hardly Knew Ye. - See more at: http://www.ceasefire.ca/?p=22429#sthash.WnzJOcUA.dpuf
Chris Westdal, a Rideau Institute Senior Advisor, also has the distinction of having been the only Canadian Ambassador to both Ukraine and Russia. He recently gave a talk to the Institute of European, Russian and Eurasian Studies at Carleton University in Ottawa, entitled: Russia, We hardly Knew Ye. - See more at: http://www.ceasefire.ca/?p=22429#sthash.0895d68q.dpuf

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It is interesting and somewhat encouraging that Pope Francis felt compelled to distance himself from his visit with Kim Davis, the marriage commissioner in Kentucky who felt entitled to refuse to do her job if it entailed interacting with gay couples.  Evidently, the organizers of the Pope-Kim meeting feel justified in ignoring that commandment about bearing false witness as long as the lie is in service of their cult.

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Tesla Motors, the brain-child of the USA's real-life Iron Man, Elon Musk, has come up with an amazing all-electric SUV, providing hope for those who recognize the pressing need to loosen the death-grip of Koch Industries on the world's politics and economy.  Needless to say, the "love yer Oil" crowd is not amused.

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US President Barack Obama gets a routine H1N1 bird flu vaccination. The only effect will likely be a tiny amount of pain followed by a high probability that Obama will be immune to that strain of flu. Anti-vaccine nutters are unhappy with a study they paid for but which showed no connection between vaccines and autism. 

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Andy Hall, an investigative reporter, is still facing some trumped up charges in Thailand because he exposed slave labour conditions at National Fruit Company's operations. Please consider signing this online petition to have the remaining charges dropped.

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Amnesty International is promoting a campaign to free Atena Farghadani, a 29-year-old painter and activist. Farghadani was sentenced to 12 years and nine months in prison on charges of 'spreading propaganda against the system', 'insulting members of parliament through paintings' and 'insulting the President and the Supreme Leader of Iran'.

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Finally, a bit of good news on the Oceans front:  The Chilean government has announced it will create an 114,872 square mile Marine Park.  This will help rebuild some important fisheries which are on the brink of extinction due to overfishing.

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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