September 27th 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 past Sunday, 39 of us watched the debate between Baz Edmeades and Bob Close on the controversial question of human evolution. Baz argued that the number of Nobel Prizes won by Ashkenazi Jews shows intelligence is being selected for in some communities, while Bob took the position that Human evolution stopped around 30,000 years ago. In the discussion period, several people raised the point that there is no reliable method to measure intelligence across different cultures. Others argued that as Humanists we should focus on our common humanity rather than superficial differences.


 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.


Physician Assisted Dying

Politicians are not going to act unless we force them to. The deadline to submit your response to the Ontario-led provincial consultation on physician assisted dying is October 1. The deadline for the federal consultation is October 11. If you have not already, please take a minute to read our response to the consultations and submit your own.


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 4, 2015, at the Oakridge Seniors Centre, Conrad Hadland will be speaking on Democracy in Canada using as a guide the BC Civil Liberties Association's publication The Citizenship Handbook: A Guide to Democratic Rights and Responsibilities.

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 that 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.

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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Plan to attend the free book launch event on September 29 at 7:00 pm - 10:00 pm, featuring Tony Ortega, author of The Unbreakable Miss Lovely. The book tells the story of the Church of Scientology's relentless campaign of spying and harassment against Paulette Cooper. Here is a summary of the events described in the book: In 1971, a New York magazine freelancer named Paulette Cooper published The Scandal of Scientology, one of the first books to give the public a view into this secretive organization. She nearly paid for it with her life. What even Paulette didn’t know at the time was the extent that Scientology and its founder, L. Ron Hubbard, would go to destroy someone it perceived as an enemy. By 1973, Paulette had been framed in an elaborate plot involving fake bomb-threat letters, and she faced 15 years in federal prison if convicted. Newly unearthed documents show that by that time, Scientology had kept her under tight surveillance for several years and proposed many ways to destroy her reputation and life. She was finally exonerated after the FBI raided Scientology in 1977 and found many of those documents, which referred to her by the code name “Miss Lovely.” Eleven top Scientology officials went to prison after that raid, but more than 30 years later, Scientology is still around — and so is Paulette.

In his new, and first, book, The Unbreakable Miss Lovely, journalist Tony Ortega tells Paulette’s story in full for the first time, with eyewitness accounts and new documents which describe the full extent of her ordeal — and her continued fight against a group now seriously in decline. Ortega will discuss highlights from the book, as well as the latest developments in the controversies facing Scientology today.

Ortega is the executive editor of TheLipTV. From 2007 to 2012, he was editor in chief of The Village Voice, and he’s been investigating and writing about Scientology since 1995, when he was a reporter for the Phoenix New Times. He also wrote for or edited weekly newspapers in Los Angeles, Kansas City, and Fort Lauderdale. Originally from Los Angeles, he lives in New York and maintains a breaking news website about Scientology news, “The Underground Bunker” (tonyortega.org). He is also featured in “Going Clear,” Alex Gibney’s award winning documentary about Scientology, which first aired on HBO in March.

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There's a rally to stop the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline on October 1st, 2015 (Thursday) at 12:30pm in front of the federal courthouse at the NE corner of Georgia and Howe.

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SFU in downtown Vancouver (Harbour Center) is hosting an interesting conference on Death Ideologies and Culture, The Legacy of Earnest Becker. The Conference runs from 2pm Friday 2 October 2015 to Sunday 4 October 2015 at 5:30pm.  Check the link for details.

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Canada's Public Service Union rescues a library's documents from the dumpster after the Canadian Federal Government shuts down another research centre library.

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To show their level of respect for human rights, the Saudi Government is planning to crucify this teen for the crime of organizing a protest against government policies. Despite this, our government continues to supply weapons to Saudi Arabia.

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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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Sanity and due process have prevailed at the University of Warwick. A student sponsored meeting featuring Maryam Namazie, (ex-Muslim and critic of Islamic fundamentalism) was arbitrarily cancelled by a representative of the Student's Union. The president of the Student's Union has corrected the situation following protests from the British Humanist Association and celebrities including Ben Goldacre, Simon Singh, and Brian Cox.

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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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"Weed be better together" is the slogan of a new online petition to legalize marijuana in Canada. The War on Drugs has done vastly more damage than marijuana ever did or ever could do and continues to pump vast amounts of money into the coffers of criminal gangs. It is past time to make evidence based laws which balance the benefits of legal, regulated, marijuana use with the potential harms.

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Andy Borowitz of The New Yorker magazine has a novel take on the Pope's visit and a different kind of relief it brings a weary nation.

John Oliver, in his show This Week Tonight on HBO, somehow managed to make a story of the extreme misery of Syrian refugees in Europe have the most heartwarming ending I've seen in a long time.

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