November 16th, 2015 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: [email protected]

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, November 8, 2015, 31 of us enjoyed a very interesting presentation by Joyce Arthur on multilingualism and the benefits of learing languages other than the one you are born into. A lively discussion followed.

Upcoming Events

On Sunday, November 22, 2015, at the Oakridge Seniors Centre, Nick Taylor of Basic Income Vancouver will speak on the movement to implement a basic minimum income for all Canadians and why that is a good idea.

On Sunday, November 29, 2015, we will hear from Obi Canuel, an ordained minister in the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Obi will be speaking about his Church and his struggle to get a BC driver's license while wearing the religious headgear (a spaghetti colander) mandated by his faith. 

On Sunday, December 6, 2015, we will have a presentation from John Ince, author and activist, on The Political Significance of Sexuality.

On Sunday, December 13, 2015, we will have a presentation from a representative to the Metro Vancouver Alliance, on mobilizing all progressive groups around issues of concern to all of us.

See all upcoming events.

BCHA Book Club

The December book club selection is Waking Up by Sam Harris. The meeting will be on Tuesday, December 1, 2015 at 7pm at Goldis and Kirsten's home. At the beginning of that meeting, we may decide to change the selection for the February 2, 2016 meeting or we may stick with the choice of Believing Bullshit by Stephen Law as decided at the November book club meeting.

The January book club selection is A Fair Country by John Ralston.  The meeting will be on Tuesday, January 5, 2015 at Goldis and Kirsten's home.  At the beginning of the meeting we will decide on the March 1, 2016 book club selection.

The February book club selection is Believing Bullshit by Stephen Law unless we decide otherwise at the December 1, 2015 meeting.  The February meeting will be on Tuesday, 2 February 2016 at Goldis and Kirsten's home.  At the beginning of the meeting, we will decide on the April 5, 2016 book club selection.




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.

Humanist Action: Coat Drive

Thanks to everyone who brought coats and winter gear on Sunday. We are still accepting coats, blankets, thermal underwear, socks and gloves to donate to people in need.

Drop off coats at one of our next Vancouver Sunday Meeting at Oakridge Seniors' Centre or contact Sue Hughson at 604-671-4805 / [email protected] to drop off at her house or she can pick them up from you. More details.

In the press


Last week, Kwantlen's student magazine, The Runner, featured our friends at the Kwantlen Secular Student Alliance. Read the full article on page 7 or click the image.

We were also quoted in the Parksville Qualicum Beach Newsresponding to reports that Brian Clement had been scheduled to speak at a local elementary school. Clement's clinic has been criticized for claiming to cure multiple sclerosis, leukemia and other conditions.

Fall BCHA Socials

Local actor and Humanist Goldie Hoffman stars as Daphna in the Vancouver production of Bad Jews. Our group tickets are sold out but you can still join us on Friday, November 20Buy tickets directly from the theatre.

Then on Wednesday, December 9 David Granirer, Al Hassam and J B Bell (from Stand Up For Mental Health) will be hosting Comic Disbelief, a night of comedy and skepticism at La Fontana Caffe at Hastings and Boundary. This event is free. Details here.

Finally, make sure to get your tickets for our annual Winter Solstice dinner. Tickets are selling fast and next week we'll have a special announcement about an honoured guest.



Guy Standing, Economics professor and author of The Precariat, The New Dangerous Class will be speaking from 7pm to 9pm on November 17, 2015  at the Hyatt Regency Hotel (855 Burrard) on Organizing the Next Generation of Workers and on the necessity of a Basic Income for all.

More News

 The Good


Kudos to Justin Trudeau, Canada's newly elected prime minister, for imposing a moratorium on supertanker traffic to the west coast of BC. This essentially kills the potentially disastrous Enbridge pipeline project. This is a significant step to protect the environment of Canada's West coast and ultimately to begin to do something about the slow motion catastrophe that is global warming.


One county in Colorado is fulfilling one promise of marijuana legalization by increasing the tax on it to 5% to fund college scholarships for eligible high-school graduates. Even better, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has explicitly begun the process of legalizing marijuana in Canada. From the linked letter from Justin Trudeau to the Minister of Justice, in the list of priorities for the minister to work on: "Working with the Ministers of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness and Health, create a federal-provincial-territorial process that will lead to the legalization and regulation of marijuana."



There will be a world-wide global series of demonstrations for climate justice on November 29, 2015 including one in Paris at the Climate Talks. Global warming may be the most important issue to face humanity ever.  Click the link to find the demonstration nearest you.


If it takes the Pope to get some people to care about global warming, then it is A Good Thing that the Pope is paying attention to the issue. This article from The Grist laments the fact that the detailed, carefully verified scientific studies by the people who make a career of understanding the science of climate change aren't convincing for far too many people, but the Pope can come along and change millions of minds. 

The hacker group Anonymous has declared war on ISIS in wake of the horrors in Paris.  The group released a video promising an all-out cyber-attack. Perhaps they will be able to make a dent in ISIS online recruiting activities. 


US scientists have developed a nano-pore system which can be used to cheaply desalinate sea water. Mass production of the invention is in the works.


Between the horrors in Paris and the ongoing slow-motion disaster that is global warming, we need a bit of heart-warming. Here is a story from the Berlin zoo to provide just that.

Working with the Ministers of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness and Health, create a federal-provincial-territorial process that will lead to the legalization and regulation of marijuana. - See more at:
Working with the Ministers of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness and Health, create a federal-provincial-territorial process that will lead to the legalization and regulation of marijuana. - See more at:
Working with the Ministers of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness and Health, create a federal-provincial-territorial process that will lead to the legalization and regulation of marijuana. - See more at:

The Bad

CO2_keeling-curve-one-year_11-8-15.jpgAtmospheric carbon dioxide levels are now at 400 parts per million. As this article from Scientific American points out, that is starting positive feedback loops that are beginning to release more potent green house gases like methane. The coming Paris climate talks may be our last chance to avert a dinosaur-extinction level catastrophe.


Yet another enormous Greenland glacier is collapsing. This article in The Grist reports that "A major glacier in Greenland that holds enough water to raise global sea levels by half a meter has begun to crumble into the North Atlantic Ocean, scientists say."


For those who have not been hiding in a wi-fi shielded cave this past weekend, there were large, co-ordinated attacks on "soft targets" in Paris by ISIS operatives, killing about 140 people and injuring many others. The manhunt to capture the organizers of the attack continues. France has launched massive airstrikes on ISIS strongholds in Raqqa province of Syria. This article in Britain's Guardian newspaper explains the motivations and aims of ISIS and why we can expect more such attacks. French President Hollande says "France is at War" and is asking for new police powers to counter the terrorist threat.


Now that the horror in Paris has amplified calls to refuse entry to Syrian refugees, we should remember that those refugees are fleeing from the same violence which caused so much mayhem at "soft targets" in Paris. By all means, let's vet the refugees to weed out terrorists, but to refuse entry across the board is inhumane. Please consider signing this petition to ask Justin Trudeau to welcome Syrian refugees into Canada -- something which would cost less than one of the relatively useless jet fighters the previous government contracted for.


More details about the hunt for those responsible for the latest Islamist atrocity in Paris. This one is from NPR. The image is of French citizens having a moment of silence in honour of the victims.


Should Canada be doing business with Saudi Arabia? CBC's Michael Enright thinks not and has some compelling reasons for saying so. 


Amir Attaran of explains why doctors cannot legally nor in good conscience refuse to provide legal medical interventions with which they have ideological disagreements. In this case, specifically, legal, assisted life (and suffering) ending services. At the very least, if they are unwilling to provide those services, they need to refer patients to doctors who will.


Hillary Clinton and Justin Trudeau are both on board with the TPP despite public criticism of the deal from Hillary of late. I believe the image is of her looking askance. Regardless, the TPP (Trans Pacific Partnership) is a massive corporate power grab disguised as a free trade agreement. It will remove the power to create public policy from duly elected governments at all levels in signatory countries and leave it up to un-elected and extra-legal "dispute resolution panels" to sort out disagreements.

 The Ugly


In less than 3 days, we started seeing propaganda from the Tea Party right demonizing Syrian refugees - that is, the people desperately trying to escape the same kind of violence that ISIS visited upon Paris.


US President Barack Obama calls out the GOP governors' calls to accept only Christian refugees for the shameful, hypocritical position (coming from states built on immigration by refugees) that it is.

 The Promotions


Anyone interested in taking part in Philosophy Dinners must sign up and pay the small fee ($5) in advance via Meetup since there a limited number of physical seats (and their format involves no more than 6 people to a table in order to keep the groups small). Glen is also co-ordinator of psychology dinners, and Calopia, your one-stop shopping site for worthwhile causes.

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