The Real Face Of Jesus - What Did Jesus Look Like?

The Real Face Of Jesus - What Did Jesus Look Like? - Popular Mechanics Thanks to Kevin S on Facebook for this interesting article

"...While Western imagery is dominant, in other parts of the world Jesus) is often shown as black, Arab or Hispanic." And so the fundamental question remains: What did Jesus look like?

An answer has emerged from an exciting new field of science: forensic anthropology. Using methods similar to those police have developed to solve crimes, British scientists, assisted by Israeli archeologists, have re-created what they believe is the most accurate image of the most famous face in human history.

An outgrowth of physical anthropology, forensic anthropology uses cultural and archeological data as well as physical and biological sciences to study different groups of people, explains A. Midori Albert, a professor of forensic anthropology at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. Experts in this specialized field require a working knowledge of genetics, and human growth and development. In their research they also draw from the fields of primatology, paleoanthropology (the study of primate and human evolution) and human osteology (the study of the skeleton). Even seemingly distant fields like nutrition, dentistry and climate adaptation play a role in this type of investigation.

While forensic anthropology is usually used to solve crimes, Richard Neave, a medical artist retired from The University of Manchester in England, realized it also could shed light on the appearance of Jesus. The co-author of Making Faces: Using Forensic And Archaeological Evidence, Neave had ventured in controversial areas before. Over the past two decades, he had reconstructed dozens of famous faces, including Philip II of Macedonia, the father of Alexander the Great, and King Midas of Phrygia. If anyone could create an accurate portrait of Jesus, it would be Neave.

Matthew's description of the events in Gethsemane offers an obvious clue to the face of Jesus. It is clear that his features were typical of Galilean Semites of his era. And so the first step for Neave and his research team was to acquire skulls from near Jerusalem, the region where Jesus lived and preached. Semite skulls of this type had previously been found by Israeli archeology experts, who shared them with Neave.

With three well-preserved specimens from the time of Jesus in hand, Neave used computerized tomography to create X-ray "slices" of the skulls, thus revealing minute details about each one's structure. Special computer programs then evaluated reams of information about known measurements of the thickness of soft tissue at key areas on human faces. This made it possible to re-create the muscles and skin overlying a representative Semite skull.

The entire process was accomplished using software that verified the results with anthropological data. From this data, the researchers built a digital 3D reconstruction of the face. Next, they created a cast of the skull. Layers of clay matching the thickness of facial tissues specified by the computer program were then applied, along with simulated skin. The nose, lips and eyelids were then modeled to follow the shape determined by the underlying muscles....(read more at link above)

Oxford study: Conservatives have larger ‘fear center’ in brain

UK Study: Conservatives have larger ‘fear center’ in brain Political opinions are considered choices, and in Western democracies the right to choose one's opinions -- freedom of conscience -- is considered sacrosanct. But recent studies suggest that our brains and genes may be a major determining factor in the views we hold.
A study at University College London in the UK has found that conservatives' brains have larger amygdalas than the brains of liberals. Amygdalas are responsible for fear and other "primitive" emotions. At the same time, conservatives' brains were also found to have a smaller anterior cingulate -- the part of the brain responsible for courage and optimism.
If the study is confirmed, it could give us the first medical explanation for why conservatives tend to be more receptive to threats of terrorism, for example, than liberals. And it may help to explain why conservatives like to plan based on the worst-case scenario, while liberals tend towards rosier outlooks.
"It is very significant because it does suggest there is something about political attitudes that are either encoded in our brain structure through our experience or that our brain structure in some way determines or results in our political attitudes," Geraint Rees, the neurologist who carried out the study, told the media.


GTA Event, John Ralston Saul book launch, Jan 21

January 21, 2011 7:00pm
The Cathedral Archives & Museum Committee of St James is pleased to host John Ralston Saul speaking on his latest book,
Louis-Hippolyte LaFontaine and Robert Baldwin
Introduction by Christopher Hume

No cost for admission, donations welcome.


Lunar Eclipse on the Solstice Tonight!

NASA reports that this is the first time an eclipse has coincided with a solstice since December 21, 1638, and the next one won't come around again until 2094. The extravaganza in the sky doesn't end there, however, as the Ursids meteor shower will also be taking place. EST,The earth's shadow should start showing on the moon's lower left around 1:33 a.m. By 2:41 a.m., the entire moon will be covered, and will stay that way for an hour.The shadow will start moving again at 3:53 a.m., and the moon will be back to normal by 5:00 a.m.

Gender Equity: Equality before t he Law

Great new VideoPSA by Andrea Dorfman for OXFAM, on women's equality before international law.


Atheist Students find their place in the InterFaith Movement - Harvard Humanist Chaplaincy

Atheist Students Find Their Place in the Interfaith Movement
By CHRIS STEDMAN, For Humanist Network News, Dec. 15, 2010

Atheists are leading the charge for interfaith cooperation.

Last weekend, more than 200 college students and 100 faculty and staff from across the United States converged in Washington, D.C. for five days of interfaith training. Students and campus staff participated in two consecutive Interfaith Leadership Institutes, planned and run by the Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC), where they received intensive training that prepared them to take the lead in a national movement for interfaith cooperation and social action.

The Interfaith Leadership Institutes, co-hosted by the Georgetown University Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs, consisted of a series of trainings, speeches and events intended to equip hundreds of student leaders and campus allies with the vision, knowledge and skills necessary to lead interfaith and community service initiatives on their campuses. The White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships hosted a session for each institute, and then participants spent two days at Georgetown being trained and equipped.

I was honored to join these students and their staff and faculty allies as a speaker and volunteer IFYC Alumni Coach for the institutes. I was amazed by the enthusiasm and compassion modeled by everyone I met, but as a secular humanist and interfaith activist, the number of nonreligious participants present is perhaps what excited me the most.

Lyz Liddell, Director of Campus Organizing at the Secular Student Alliance, was one of the student allies in attendance. Liddell believes the institutes were a watershed moment for nonreligious participation in the interfaith movement.

"This institute changed perspectives for both theists and nontheists," said Liddell. "Hearing repeated language specifically including nonbelievers -- such as 'people of all religions and no religion' -- made it clear that atheists and other secular worldviews are welcome and needed at the interfaith table. Likewise, having nontheists represented helped religious attendees really understand that nontheists want to be involved and are willing and eager to be included."

As an Alumni Coach, I am working with 20 other IFYC alumni to serve as mentors to the institutes' budding student leaders. One of the students I am mentoring is Michael Anderson, a junior at McKendree University. Anderson sees interfaith work as a pragmatic necessity. "We're all just human beings, and we have to come to a conclusion on how to live together," said Anderson.

Vlad Chituc, a junior at Yale University, was also there to learn more about interfaith leadership. Chituc was surprised and impressed by how welcoming the institute was to atheists and other nonreligious individuals. "I found that the entire conversation stemmed around people saying, 'We really want to include nonreligious people; how the hell do we do that?' Now I don't know why I was expecting the discussion to focus more on whether or not we should even be involved in the movement," Chituc said.

Chelsea Link, a junior at Harvard University, said that she believes that her humanist values require her to find common ground with religious people. "When I found humanism, I felt like many humanists and atheists were detached from religious communities, and many were antagonistic toward the religious," Link said. "Meanwhile, at interfaith events, I didn't see much of an invitation for atheists or humanists. The religious and nonreligious don't know how to deal with each other; I'd like to see more reaching out from both sides. We shouldn't be afraid of each other!"

Adam Garner, a senior at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, agreed with her. "I want to make the world a better place through service and I want to fight religious intolerance. The IFYC, and especially our Interfaith in Action group here on campus, allows me to accomplish both goals in one fell swoop."

I have been working for several years now as a secular humanist promoting interfaith and nonreligious understanding, so I was honored to receive an invitation to share my story and my message at a reception following the White House session, hosted by the El-Hibri Charitable Foundation in celebration of the launch of the Interfaith Leadership Institutes. Speaking before a group of policy and philanthropic professionals, I explained that there are many atheists, agnostics, humanists and other nonreligious individuals like Anderson, Chituc, Link, Garner, Liddell and others at the institutes who wish to seek understanding, respect and collaboration with their religious neighbors.

After my speech, I got the opportunity to talk with many of the policy and philanthropic professionals at the reception, and they affirmed my belief that the nonreligious are an essential asset in this movement. President Obama has spoken frequently of the role that the nonreligious play in American pluralism, so I was both pleased and unsurprised to hear that those involved in the current administration's efforts to ensure interfaith cooperation agreed.

The IFYC Interfaith Leadership Institutes proved that the interfaith movement has hit a critical mass. The student-led, national Better Together" campaign is at the forefront of an emerging societal shift toward inter-religious tolerance and cooperation. Including the nonreligious only strengthens these efforts. Atheists, agnostics, secular humanists and the like have a vital stake in ensuring that America's promise of pluralism is realized, and it is exhilarating to see more of us decide that collaboration is more important than division.

"Some of the best interfaith leaders I know are not people of faith, but their understanding of secular humanism inspires them to create bridges of cooperation between people from different backgrounds," said IFYC Founder and President Eboo Patel. "They recognize that religious tolerance is a 'public good,' which benefits everybody, including the nonreligious. They also recognize that perhaps the greatest interfaith divide in our society is between 'believers' and 'nonbelievers,' and that they have a special role to play in bridging that divide. And from what I have experienced myself, I believe that as well."

With more than 300 students and staff equipped to make interfaith cooperation through social action a reality on their campuses and in their communities, they now know that the nonreligious will be there working and engaging in dialogue alongside them for the public good.

When I first started doing interfaith work, I didn't see many other nonreligious people involved. Now we're impossible to miss.

Chris Stedman is the Interfaith and Community Service Fellow for the Humanist Chaplaincy at Harvard University and the Managing Director of State of Formation, a new initiative at the Journal of Inter-Religious Dialogue.

Globe and Mail, the Future of Faith series

An interesting series of articles in the Globe and Mail on the "Future of Faith" discuss Canada's growing secularization among established institutions, and the growth of religion in immigrant groups.


Dec 21: Annual Kensignton Market Solstice Parade, 6:30 pm

Kensington Winter Solstice « Red Pepper Spectacle Arts

21st annual Kensington Market Winter Solstice Festival

TUESDAY DEC. 21, 2010  6:30-8:30

Celebrate the return of light on the longest, darkest night!

The Kensington Market Winter Solstice is a participatory lantern parade.Make a lantern, bang a drum, wear a costume, carry a puppet…this is a people’s celebration! Children welcome, and everyone else.

Sunday Dec. 12th from 11am-5pm at the Steelworkers Hall 25 Cecil Street

Workshops are Pay What You Can
suggested donation of $10 per lantern includes materials, instruction, candle and carrying stick.

Hand-made and commercial free since 1987.
info: 416-598-3729 or RedPepperSpectacle 


Banquet Benefit for War Resisters, Dec 10, Friends House

Time:        RECEPTION 6:30 PM
                DINNER 7:00 PM
COST:      $20 TO $50


Canadian Voice of Women for Peace
761 Queen Street West, Suite 203
Toronto, ON M6J 1G1   (416) 603-7915

Human Rights Day: Amnesty Letter Writing events in Toronto, Dec 10

OISE/U of T is holding a Writing for Rights event on December 10, 2010 10:10 pm
in association with the Adult Education and Community Development dept and esp. Interchange, a peacebuilding network.
Location: 252 Bloor St W, Toronto, ON Contact: (647) 402-7535

Amnesty International Toronto Office is holding a Writing for Rights event on Dec 10, 2010 3 – 8pm
Stop in any time from 3-8 pm to write letters, watch videos, hear guest speakers on the hour and enjoy refreshments.
Location: 1992 Yonge Street, 3rd Floor, Toronto, ON Contact: (416) 363-9933 x 328

Group 18 – Toronto is holding a Writing for Rights event on Monday December 13th, 2010 7:00 pm
As every year our small AI group will meet at our regular meeting place: Friends House, 60 Lowther Ave on Monday December 13th at 7pm. We intend to write as many letters as possible; light refreshments will be provided.
Location: 60 Lowther Ave, Toronto, ON Contact: pmgrenier@sympatico.ca

OISE/U of T is holding a Writing for Rights event on 10 am – 4 pm
For students, faculty, staff, alumni, and open to the public! Come through the lobby to the coffee shop.
Location: 252 Bloor St W, Toronto, ON Contact: (647) 402-7535

Harbourfront Community Centre is holding a Writing for Rights event on December 10, 2010 12:00 pm
Getting all the staff and students of the Harbourfront Community Centre to take time on December 10th, 2010 to write a letter regarding International Human Rights Day.
627 Queens Quay W , Toronto, ON Contact: (416) 553-0547


British Humanists: Shelley's "The Necessity of Atheism" 200th anniversary lecture

March 2011 marks 200 years since Percy Bysshe Shelley’s tract 'The Necessity of Atheism' was printed, distributed around Oxford and then, swiftly, burned. Here is an article from the British Humanist Association about a commemorative event with Richard Dawkins.

'The Necessity' had been prefaced with a plea to potential critics: that anyone who saw fault in the essay was welcome to submit rational, methodical refutations, but not to simply persecute the author for being an atheist. But instead, Shelley was expelled from the university, an event which propelled forward a hectic series of elopements and political activities which would dominate the rest of his short life.

Why was The Necessity of Atheism so dangerous? What, in fact, was it arguing for? What was its importance in the career and reputation of Shelley, and why is it still a vital document today? 

Note: You can read the tract on Infidels.org

Ann Wroe is a recent biographer of Percy Bysshe Shelley and well-placed to address such questions. To mark the 200th anniversary of the publication of 'The Necessity of Atheism' and Shelley’s consequent expulsion from Oxford, the British Humanist Association will host a new Shelley Lecture on Tuesday 29 March 2011.

The event will be chaired by Professor Richard Dawkins and will be held at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History, where the famous debate on evolution between Huxley and Wilberforce, also overshadowed by notions of dangerous atheism, took place in 1860.


Write your MP about Biotech and Agribusiness

From C-BAN
Despite biotech industry attempts to shut down debate, last night in  the House of Commons, the New Democratic Party secured a new 5-hour  debate on Bill C-474 and the impacts of genetic engineering for early 
in 2011. This type of debate on genetic engineering in the House of  Commons has never happened before! Now every MP will have a chance to  participate in the debate on Bill C-474. Write your MP today and ask 
them to represent your concerns in the debate.


Dec 1, Dec 2: International AIDS Day, news and events

UNAIDS Global report 2010 | AIDS SCORECARDS
You can read Regional Reports here - note that South Africa has achieved almost 90% reduction in Mother/Child transmission - but stats are rising in Eastern Europe and East Asia.

AIDS Day is observed every year on December 1. It was first observed in 1988 after a summit of health ministers from around the world called for a spirit of social tolerance and a greater exchange of information on HIV/AIDS. World AIDS Day serves to strengthen the global effort to face the challenges of the AIDS pandemic.

Buddies in Bad Times launched a campaign last night, AidsActionNow,org
You can watch their campaign video calling for the end of the Harper government's denial of the right to health for people living with and affected by HIV and Hepatitis C.

* In Vancouverʼs downtown eastside, the prevalence of Hepatitis C is 70%. HIV prevalence is 30%
* In Toronto, 23% of gay and bisexual men are HIV-positive.
* Aboriginal people make up 3.8% of the overall population, but 12.5% of new HIV infections.
* In Canadian prisons, Hepatitis C rates are 45 times greater than the general population, and HIV rates are 22 times greater.

Despite these alarming facts, the Harper government continues to oppose harm reduction programs that are proven to reduce HIV and Hepatitis C infections. Instead, funding has been increased for military and security costs which cost Canadian taxpayers 632 times the annual national AIDS plan.

Thursday, December 2 · 6:00pm - 9:00pm
Location OISE, room 2212
252 Bloor St. West Toronto, ON
Oxfam University of Toronto

Industrialized countries have the ability to produce generic drugs to address the severity of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the developing world. Canada's Access to Medicines Regime (CAMR) was designed for this exact task however it is seriously flawed and recent reform efforts have been unsuccessful in parliament. We have the ability to produce the necessary medicine, so why aren't we delivering? Join us for a compelling discussion combining perspectives from policy, government and NGO backgrounds.

- Richard Elliott: the Executive Director of the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network
- Dr. Anne-Marie Zajdlik: Founder of the Bracelet of Hope campaign
- Aria Ahmad: President of the U of T chapter of UAEM (Universities Allied for Essential Medicines)
Doctors without Borders
HIV/AIDS treatment in developing countries is being dealt a double blow that will mean treatment recommendations cannot be implemented and the promise of new science remain unfulfilled.


TEDxHartHouse | Dec 6, tickets closed, Video stream offered

Hart House is pleased to present TEDxHart House: The Future of Food, the first-ever TEDx event at the University of Toronto.

On December 6th, at 6:00 p.m., the independently organized TEDxHart House: The Future of Food will explore some of the factors we must weigh as we choose what foods make it into our shopping carts. With the rise of issues like ethical eating, factory farming and food scarcity, the world is awakening to how we sow, grow, raise, reap, slaughter, transport, distribute, buy, share, cook, eat and dispose of food.

Four experts— Jason Qu, Lauren Baker, Jeffrey Crump and Bettina Schorman— will share their views on two-tiered food systems, food sharing, local food movements and sustainability in a series of three 18 minute talks. At TEDxHart House, TEDTalks video and live speakers will combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group.

Hart House is a recognized leader in food politics and sustainability. Last year, Hart House celebrated World Food Week with filled-to-capacity programming, including a presentation by Dr. Vandana Shiva, a physicist, activist, vice-president of the global organization Slow Food International and author of Soil Not Oil, Earth Democracy and Stolen Harvest: The Hijacking of the Global Food Supply. Watch Dr. Shiva’s address at http://www.harthouse.ca/culture/earthdemocracy.

[The response to attend this event has been overwhelming! We received hundreds of applications but unfortunately we are only permitted to invite 100 audience members to attend TEDxHartHouse: The Future of Food. Due to the limited capacity, we have closed applications to this event. The good news is that you can still participate in TEDxHartHouse virtually - we will be filming the talks and it will be posted on the TEDxYouTube channel following the live event. The link will be posted on our website so keep checking www.harthouse.ca.


War Resisters Fund Raisers, Dec. 2, Toronto

Two fundraisers in support of Iraq War resisters

From east to west, Toronto is fundraising for Iraq War resisters on THURSDAY DECEMBER 2nd – two great events, one great cause! Please come out to one (or both!) of these events, bring your neighbours and friends, help raise much needed funds for the ongoing fight to keep Iraq War resisters in Canada.

Canadian lyricist and composer Jon Brooks performs a benefit for the War Resisters Support Campaign, with special guests Antonia Zerbisias, Toronto Star columnist and author of the Broadsides blog and Iraq War resister Jeremy Hinzman.

Thursday, December 2nd 8 p.m.
Lula Lounge 1585 Dundas Street West
$20 or pay what you can • Dinner reservation guarantees seating 416 588 0307

Come out to the 'Support Don’t Deport' Benefit Jam in support of local War Resisters Phil and Jamine, with special musical guests Mr. Rick & the Biscuits, Darren Eedens and comedian Robin Crossman.

Thursday, December 2nd 8:30pm - 11:30pm
The Prohibition Gastrohouse
696 Queen Street East
$25 in advance or $30 at the door (includes first drink and appetizer)

Ticket info at TheJamBlog.com

Full transcript, Munk Debate, Christopher Hitchens vs. Tony Blair:

New Statesman - Christopher Hitchens vs. Tony Blair: the full transcript (here is it is plaintext, in case the NewStatesman blog disappears)

also, CBC ideas program


CBC: "How Should We Die", A Conversation with Dr. Balfour

How Should We Die, A Conversation with Dr. Balfour Mount
Dr. Balfour Mount joined us for a poignant conversation about death and dying with host Michael Enright.

Since September, a committee of the Quebec National Assembly has been hearing witnesses, taking submissions, collecting studies and statistics on the question of Canada's laws on euthanasia and assisted suicide.

The hearings are a response to a report from the Quebec College of Physicians in the fall of 2009 which asked the government to examine the laws and regulations on Doctors and Death, saying that the Doctors weren't endorsing any particular regime but were "concerned with promoting appropriate fare for end-of-life patients that could include all options".

Pondering what's appropriate for end of life patients has been the work of Dr. Balfour Mount since the early 1970s. In a study he did at the time on terminally ill patients and their families, he found that the care provided was inadequate across all services. And he set out to remedy that.

He established North America's first integrated hospice ...he coined the term palliative care...he originated the Biennial Congress in Care of the Dying...and he was the founding director of the Palliative Care Division of the Department of Oncology at McGill University and the accomplishments and honours could go on.

And Balfour Mount doesn't just talk the talk - he's been diagnosed with Cancer 3 times...survived a plane crash...watched more people die than he cares to count and to this day, struggles with the question... how should we die.

Because this is a Quebec debate, you may wish to revisit The Barbarian Invasions, by Denys Arcand


Christopher Hitchens and Tony Blair - Munk Debates 2

In case you couldn't buy a ticket...

Food Drive for MultiFaith Center - women's shelters

Who: U of T 'Faith' Clubs in Partnership with the University of Toronto Students Union (UTSU) Food Bank and the Toronto Police Toy Drive or Women's Shelters
When: From November 21st to December 6th 2010
Where: Bins provided to your 'faith'(sic)or Service club
Why: Because 'Faith' (or ethics) can be a source for good in our community

How: To get your group involved please sign up

Interested in volunteering as an individual?
e-mail multi.faith@utoronto.ca or call 416-946-3120
Suggested food items: canned: soup, beans. Oatmeal, cereal and new toys.


PEN CANADA- "Institutional Lies": Linden MacIntyre with Richard Gwyn, Dec. 8

Institutional Lies: Linden MacIntyre in Conversation with Richard Gwyn Political commentator and author Richard Gwyn speaks with Linden MacIntyre, co-host of CBC's The Fifth Estate, about abuse scandals in the Catholic Church, government secrecy, and freedom of speech.

This event will be held at Ben McNally Books in Toronto on Wednesday, December 8, at 7pm. Please see the attached flyer for further details and ticket information.


Special Performance of "The Middle Place" to beneft Youth Shelter, Oct 27

Help Fill The House for Youth Without Shelter!
This coming Wednesday, October 27, a special benefit performance of The Middle Place is taking place at Theatre Passe Muraille. All proceeds are going to YWS Shelter in Rexdale - the shelter where Andrew conducted all the original interviews.
The Middle Place began in 2007 when a young, idealistic playwright accompanied Project: Humanity into the shelter system to do on-camera interviews with the residents of a Rexdale youth shelter. That playwright Andrew Kushnir,  conducted a series of on-camera interviews with the shelter’s residents and workers; these transcribed interviews became the script for The Middle Place, which is currently showing at Theatre Passe Muraille.  With four actors creating sixteen residents and three workers, along with a fifth actor playing Kushnir himself, The Middle Place is a compelling, relevant piece of Canadian theatre that exposes an often forgotten faction of Toronto’s residents.The Middle Place is verbatim theatre at its best.

This is a performance we really want to sell out. If you're planning to catch the piece this Fall, this is the perfect opportunity to do so - by simply buying a ticket, you'll be assisting the at-risk youth who made this play possible. Tickets are only $30 and your dollars are going to an extraordinary organization. For tickets visit call Arts Box Office at (416)504-7529 or purchase online


GTA event: HAT meeting, Advocating for the Homeless and the Poor, Nov. 13

Humanist Association of Toronto, Monthly Meeting
Date: Saturday, November 13  Time:  1:30-3pm
Location: OISE, 252 Bloor west, Room tbd
Topic: Advocating for the Homeless and the Poor
Speaker: Cathy Crowe

Cathy Crowe is a nurse, educator and activist, advocating for the homeless and the poor in the areas of housing, public health and social justice. She has degrees in nursing and education from Ryerson and OISE, and has received honorary degrees from the University of Victoria and McMaster University. She also received the Atkinson Charitable Foundation Economic Justice Award in 2004. Cathy is the author of Dying for a Home: Homeless Activists Speak Out.   This presentation is free and open to all.

Forum: Religion and the Secular State: Isabel Bader, Theatre, Nov 4

Keith Davey Forum 2010
Faith and Politics: Religion and the Secular State
Thursday, November 4, 2010
Isabel Bader Theatre, University of Toronto
93 Charles St. W Toronto
Jean Bethke Elshtain
Laura Spelman Rockefeller Professor of Social and Political Ethics, University of Chicago
Ahmet T. Kuru
Assistant Professor of Political Science, San Diego State University
Patrick Weil
Visiting Professor, Yale Law School and Senior Research Fellow, National Center for Scientific Research
Daniel Weinstock
Canada Research Chair in Ethics and Political Philosophy, Université de Montréal
Simone Chambers
Professor of Political Science, University of Toronto
Seating is on a first-come first-served basis.
Details :www.politics.utoronto.ca or www.vicu.utoronto.ca


GTA event: Tony Blair and Chris Hitchens, Nov 26

Munk Debates - Religion (see website for livestream fees, tickets from $20-80 on website)
Roy Thomson Hall 60 Simcoe Street, Toronto, Canada
6:30 PM Doors open
7:00 PM Debate begins

The 6th semi-annual Munk Debate will feature practicing Catholic and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair debating bestselling author and atheist Christopher Hitchens. These two world-class debaters will tackle the resolution: be it resolved, religion is a force for good in the world.

The debate will focus on competing claims regarding religion’s effect on human civilization, today and into the future. For example: In a world of globalization and rapid social change does religion provide the common values and ethical foundations that diverse societies need to thrive in the 21st century? Or, do deeply held religious beliefs promote intolerance, exacerbate ethnic divisions, and impede social progress in developing and developed nations alike?


UofT Event: How Nanotechnology Will Affect the Environment – In a Good Way

University of Toronto Events Calendar\Green Nanotechnology: How Nanotechnology Will Affect the Environment – In a Good Way

St. George Woodsworth College
119 St. George Street
Rm. WW 121Oct 20, 4 - 6 pm
ABSTRACT: Nano means small, and nanotechnology is the science of the small. Nanoparticles are very small particles - on the order of 1/10000th the width of a human hair. Because they are so small, they have many new properties that we can use to make useful products. These properties can include control over their interaction with light (absorbing it or letting it through), or increases in surface area per unit mass, which makes them more catalytically active, or changes in their interaction with their environment, which make them better for drug delivery or environmental remediation. In this talk, I will discuss some upcoming applications of nanotechnology that have the potential to dramatically impact the environment - in a good way. In particular, I will discuss nanotechnology applications in solar energy generation, energy efficiency, catalysis, and in agriculture.

BRIEF BIO: Darren Anderson, Ph.D. was the founding President of Vive Nano. During the early stages of the company’s growth, he was responsible for initial financing, drafting and filing of patent applications, and the creation of Vive Nano’s first product lines. Dr. Anderson currently oversees all technical direction at the company, including product development, strategic direction, and intellectual property.

UofT Event: Abortion at the Brazilian Supreme Court: A Bioethical Challenge

Abortion at the Brazilian Supreme Court: A Bioethical Challenge
St. George, Health Sciences Building
155 College St.
754Oct 13, 3 - 4:30 pm
Joint Centre for Bioethics Seminar Series

Debora Diniz, PhD, Professor, Public Health Graduate Program and Co-founder and Researcher, Institute of Bioethics, Human Rights and Gender, University of Brasilia, Brazil

This seminar will be recorded and archived for later viewing.

Lecture, UofT: “Pursuing Accountability for Human Rights Abuses Associated with Maternal Mortality in Indiia

Pursuing Accountability for Human Rights Abuses Associated with Maternal Mortality in India
Melissa Upreti, Senior Regional Manager and Legal Adviser for Asia Centre for Reproductive Rights (New York)
October 13, 2010 12:30-2pm
University of Toronto Faculty of Law
Falconer Hall, 84 Queen’s Park Solarium

Melissa Upreti is Senior Regional Manager and Legal Adviser for Asia in the International Legal Program. She is coordinator and main editor of two of the Center's signature publications, Women of the World, South Asia, and Women of the World, East and Southeast Asia. She led a fact-finding mission to investigate women imprisoned for abortion in Nepal and is coauthor of Abortion in Nepal: Women Imprisoned. She has designed and conducted human rights trainings in India, Nepal, and the Philippines and is involved in reproductive rights litigation projects in those countries. More recently, she was instrumental in securing the constitutional recognition of reproductive rights in Nepal and has been involved in efforts to promote the use of the Optional Protocol to CEDAW in the region. Prior to joining the Center in 2000, she was a Program Officer at the Asia Foundation in Nepal. She has a LLB from India and received her Master of Laws from the Columbia University School of Law, where she was a Stone Scholar.

Her presentation will focus on the human rights dimensions of maternal mortality and morbidity and legal strategies being used in India, the country with the highest number of maternal deaths in the world, to hold the government accountable for its failure to prevent pregnancy related deaths and injuries. In June, 2010, the Delhi High Court issued a groundbreaking decision recognizing the right to health as an inalienable right, particularly the right of women to pregnancy related care. The decision addresses the Indian government's failure to ensure that entitlements and benefits introduced by the state to prevent maternal deaths and disability are indeed implemented. It recognizes the right of pregnant women who are denied maternal health care and benefits to obtain compensation. Above all, it reaffirms the important connection between the right to health and the right to food as constitutionally protected fundamental rights.

Note: If you are interested in the practical uses of CEDAW in building case law, this is a good example. Mary


Oct 4, 10pm: Walk for Justice and candlelight vigil for missing and murdered Indigenous women

Walk for Justice and candlelight vigil for missing and murdered Indigenous women
Oct 4 2010 - 10:00pm
Queen's Park College Street and University Avenue

Sisters and Brothers in Solidarity is asking that everyone come together -- both women and men working in solidarity -- to honour our over 500 missing and murdered sisters, mothers, daughters, aunties and friends by taking a stand. We say: Enough is Enough.

First Nations communities across Canada have been carrying the burden of this sadness for generations as they have walked this trail of grief. They are stepping out of the shadows and coming forward. We demand that these murders and the disappearances stop. Now.

The Walk for Justice starts at 5:00 pm at Queen's Park and we will participate in a healing walk ending at Allen Gardens for a candlelight vigil at 7:00 pm. Sisters and Brothers in Solidarity is a really grassroots group and we get our guidance from the protocols, traditions and the seven teachings.

We are asking everyone to bring a drum with them to participate in our Heart Beat walk (joining our heart beat with that of Mother Earth) and a strip of white cloth.
Contact Lisa: l.currier@hotmail.com

Rabble TV: Livestreaming of transgender NZ MP Georgina Byer Oct 2

On Saturday eve RabbleTV is livestreaming a lecture by Georgina Byer As the first openly transgender person in the world to hold a national office, Georgina Byer was elected a Member of Parliament in New Zealand.

As the first openly transgender person in the world to hold a national office, Georgina Byer was elected a Member of Parliament in New Zealand. Beyer, born biologically male, spent her early childhood on her grandparents' farm in rural New Zealand before moving to Wellington with her mother and stepfather. From an early age, Beyer recalls feeling like a girl trapped in a boy's body. In her 20s, Beyer began working in the Wellington gay nightclub scene as a singer and drag queen performer. During a trip to Australia, she was attacked and raped by four men. Beyer refers to this experience as her defining moment. In 1984, she had sex reassignment surgery and forged a successful career as a film and television actress in Auckland. From Auckland, Beyer moved to the small conservative town of Carterton, where she took a job as a youth social worker.

In 1993, Beyer was elected to the Carterton District Council. Two years later she was elected Mayor of Carterton, where she served for five years. In 1999, she won a seat in the New Zealand Parliament. While in Parliament, Beyer helped pass the Prostitution Reform Act, which decriminalizes prostitution and protects sex workers and their clients. She was instrumental in securing same-sex civil union benefits for New Zealanders. Beyer chronicled her life in "Change for the Better: the Story of Georgina Beyer" (1999). A documentary film about her, "Georgie Girl" (2002), won international awards. Beyer was a keynote speaker at the International Conference on LGBT Human Rights in Montreal in 2006. She retired from Parliament in 2007, saying, "I can now look for fresh challenges."


See Force of Nature: The David Suzuki Movie Oct. 1

See Force of Nature: The David Suzuki Movie Oct. 1
David's movie opens tomorrow in Toronto - See the film and the producers will donate $1 from your ticket to the David Suzuki Foundation.

David Suzuki, iconic Canadian scientist, educator, broadcaster and activist delivers a 'last lecture' — what he describes as "a distillation of my life and thoughts, my legacy, what I want to say before I die".

Also action pages on the blog - such as Mining Waste in Lakes and Rivers

UPDATE on LaFontaine-Baldwin lecture Oct 15

A commentator asked if this would be streamlined, so I wrote them and they answered :)

Dear Mary,

There are details of other ways to access the lecture posted online at lafontaine-baldwin. If any other opportunities to access the lecture become available, they will be posted there.

·The lecture will be streamed online. The web address for the webcast will be posted on the website in advance of the lecture.

·CBC Radio Ideas will be recording the lecture for broadcast at a later date. Please check the CBC website for broadcast dates.

·Copies of His Highness’ speech will be made available online after the event.

HAT Monthly Meeting: Afzal Mirza, from Ahmadiyya Muslims. OISE Oct 16

Cross-posted to HAT website
Date: Saturday, October 16 Time: 1:30 – 3pm
Location: OISE, 252 Bloor Street West, 3-311
Topic: Living the Faith in Contemporary Society
Speaker: Afzal Mirza

Mr. Afzal Mirza is a missionary of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, whose premise is 'love for all, hatred for none.' He has many years of service in Canada and the USA. In the recent past, he was the Vice Principal of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Institute of Islamic Studies in Mississauga. Currently, he is the missionary responsible for Peel region. Mr. Mirza will speak on living the faith in contemporary society: how does an individual Muslim observe their faith in a secular society with Judeo-Christian roots? How does one do this especially when one’s experience as a peaceful, liberal-minded Muslim is at odds with what is portrayed in the media? And how does one interact with others in this society?

Free admission. There will be an opportunity for open discussion and questions.

TED is at the Glenn Gould today

TEDxToronto | September 30, 2010 at Glenn Gould Studio | Ideas Worth Spreading

TED is a the Glenn Gould today. Sold out (of course!) You can sign up for updates when the feeds are posted.

I'm particularly interested in PLANINTERNATIONAL (as that's one of the nonprofits I support). Here's the speaker:

Amanda Sussman provides training on political activism
to strengthen the ability of citizen’s groups to participate in shaping government policy. She has extensive experience working with a wide range of organizations including Human Rights Watch, the Canadian Council for International Cooperation, Amnesty International, the Food Security Policy Group, the Interagency Coalition on AIDS and Development, and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. She was senior policy advisor on human rights and refugee issues to the former Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration.

Recently, Amanda was a member of the Steering Committee for the Canadian G8/G20 Civil Society Campaign, which led a successful effort to garner 7.3 billion dollars from G8 countries to save the lives of women and children in the developing world. She is also a [senior advisor] to Plan International, Canada, one of the world’s largest international child-centered development organizations, without political or religious affiliations.


Of interest: Save Comparative Literature

Save Comparative Literature
You may have seen the petition outside the MultiFaithCentre at the Grad Student open house to save "Complit", Comparative Literature, the Centre for Diaspora and Transnational Studies and other programs threatened with Closure, including the Centre For Ethics. Read more here, and contribute.


Go: Toronto's Word on the Street Festival, Sunday Sept 25, Queens Park

WORDS: Pay tribute to the printed (and digital) word this Sunday at The Word On The Street Festival, bringing together authors and publishers from across the country in one epic day of literary celebration. Headliners this year include Man Booker Prize winning Yann Martel reading from his new book Beatrice and Virgil and soon-to-be former mayor David Miller discussing his authorial debut Witness to a City, also the Diaspora Dialogues' Literary Scavenger Hunt, running throughout the day. Queen's Park (111 Wellesley Street West), 11 a.m.–6 p.m., FREE.


Lecture: Green Nanotechnology Oct 20

Green Nanotechnology: How Nanotechnology Will Affect the Environment In a Good Way
Oct 20, 4 - 6 pm
Woodsworth College, 119 St George, 121

ABSTRACT: Nano means small, and nanotechnology is the science of the small. Nanoparticles are very small particles - on the order of 1/10000th the width of a human hair. Because they are so small, they have many new properties that we can use to make useful products. These properties can include control over their interaction with light (absorbing it or letting it through), or increases in surface area per unit mass, which makes them more catalytically active, or changes in their interaction with their environment, which make them better for drug delivery or environmental remediation. In this talk, I will discuss some upcoming applications of nanotechnology that have the potential to dramatically impact the environment - in a good way. In particular, I will discuss nanotechnology applications in solar energy generation, energy efficiency, catalysis, and in agriculture.
BRIEF BIO: Darren Anderson, Ph.D. was the founding President of Vive Nano. During the early stages of the company’s growth, he was responsible for initial financing, drafting and filing of patent applications, and the creation of Vive Nano’s first product lines. Dr. Anderson currently oversees all technical direction at the company, including product development, strategic direction, and intellectual property.

Lecture: New Green Roof Technology Oct 6

Environment UToronto Seminar series:
Oct 6, 4-6  Woodsworth College, 121  
119 St George Street

New Green Roof Technology
ABSTRACT: Reducing the weight of green roofs to increase the adoption of green roof technology on a wider range of buildings and plants specifically for green roofs. This will be addressed by presenting new strategies using existing green roof materials in new combinations which contribute to a decrease in bulk density while maximizing stormwater retention. In particular, he has been investigating the physical properties of a new “media” which he recently engineered. It consists of an inert clay, inert organic and coarse organic and is carbon positive and could theoretically be used as a “credit”.
BRIEF BIO: Jeff Licht specializes in linking the ecophysiology of subalpine and high meadow plants of New England to use in sustainable design/build projects. He received his doctorate from Boston University in 1985 and his horticultural certification from the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University. In 2005, Licht established a green roof program at Tufts University, authoring an EPA P3 grant to support a now vibrant program in Somerville, MA and in 2006 taught the first “green roof” course at Harvard University.

Event: Seminar: Neuroscience, Free Will and Moral Responsibility - Oct 6

Neuroscience, Free Will and Moral Responsibility
Oct 06, 3 - 4:30 pm
Joint Centre for Bioethics Seminar Series
Gardar Arnason, PhD, Researcher, Dept. of Social and Moral Philosophy
University of Helsinki

Health Sciences Building, 155 College Street, 754
Contact Information Beth Woods

Millenium Summit on the MDGS

Go look on our EthicalActionAlert blog for more information on the MDGs, the summit, and things you can actually do.


UTM: Abu al-Faza'il Gulpaygani: An Ante Litteram Critic of Orientalism Sept 29

[from time to time, we hope to highlight lectures and events in the GTA and UofT campus of general interest to a Humanist sensibility]

Prandium: Historical Studies UTM Lunchtime Seminar Series
Sep 29, 12 - 2 pm
The UTM Department of Historical Studies and the Historical Studies Society cordially invite you to the launch of ‘Prandium: A Historical Studies UTM Lunchtime Seminar Series’ on Wednesday, 29 September, 12:00-1:00 in Room 143, North Building, UTM. A light lunch will be provided at 1:00.

Our first presenter is Mina Yazdani, Ph.D. candidate at the department of Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations, who will be speaking about Abu al-Faza'il Gulpaygani: An Ante Litteram Critic of Orientalism. Since the late 1970s, the term ‘orientalism’ has been synonymous with Edward Said and his influential monograph of the same name. This paper suggests that as revolutionary as a number of Said’s theses have been, he was not breaking entirely new ground. In fact, some seven decades earlier, we find a voice from within the Orient itself: a Persian scholar named Mirza Abu al-Faza'il Gulpaygani, expressing a similar— albeit far more embryonic— critique of orientalism. This paper will introduce Abu al-Faza'il’s general critique of orientalism as a nascent pre-figuration of some of the theses developed and advanced by Said decades later.


GTA: Royal Conservatory: La Fontaine-Baldwin Lectures: Aga Khan Oct 15

La Fontaine-Baldwin Lectures: His Highness the Aga Khan
Friday October 15, 2010
7:30 PM Koerner Hall RCM.
The tenth annual LaFontaine-Baldwin Lecture will be delivered by His Highness the Aga Khan, and introduced by the Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson and John Ralston Saul. The LaFontaine-Baldwin Lecture is one of the most prominent lecture series on issues concerning the public good in Canada. It is presented by the Institute for Canadian Citizenship, a national organization founded and co-chaired by the Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson and John Ralston Saul. Founded in 2000, the LaFontaine-Baldwin Symposium engages Canadians in a national conversation on the public good. The symposium features a high profile guest speaker who addresses relevant issues of the day and continues the public debate around the future shape of Canada's civic culture. A free, public roundtable discussion is also held as part of the symposium.

GO: Cooperative Shoreline Clean-up, Sept 25, 26

Cooperative Shoreline Clean-up
The Great Canadian Shoreline Clean up with the Centre for Community Partnerships is a day long service-learning project designed to increase your environmental awareness, fulfill a civic duty and work side by side with your fellow students

Sept 25:
10:00am: Reception at Hart House
10:30am: Opening Speech Allie Kosela from Lake Ontario Waterkeepers
11:00am: Travel to Clean up Sites: Marilyn Bell Park, Toronto Island and Don River
3:30pm: Reflection Activity

Sept 25: Sign up for the BID student group (Beyond Intellectual Discovery)
Sept 26: Sign up for the Multifaith Centre group

Event: Calgary - Gender, Culture and Religion:Tackling some difficult questions

[from time to time we publish items of scholarly or general interest in other cities, esp when there are requests for comment or links]

Gender, Culture and Religion: Tackling some difficult questions
The Marsha Hanen Symposium on Ethical Leadership and Gender Equality
October 1 - 2, 2010   Metropolitan Conference Centre, 333 4th Ave S.W., Calgary

The Sheldon Chumir Foundation is concerned with how we organize ourselves so as to live ethically well together – peacefully, with dignity for all and in mutual respect. Equality issues are central to our mandate. This Symposium will provide an opportunity for thoughtful engagement with one set of equality issues – those presented by the tension between gender equality and Canada’s cultural and religious diversity.

Topics and Speakers:

Bedrock in principle, sometimes contested in practice: a framework for thinking about gender equality in Canada today
* Janet Keeping, President, Sheldon Chumir Foundation for Ethics in Leadership
* Tarek Fatah, Founder, Muslim Canadian Congress
* Morton Weinfeld, Professor, McGill University
* Micheal Vonn, Policy Director, BC Civil Liberties Association

Panel: When is state interference with religious or cultural practices justified to advance women's rights? When is it not justified?

* Tarek Fatah, Founder, Muslim Canadian Congress
* Jennifer Koshan, Associate Professor, University of Calgary
* Dan Shapiro, Research Associate, Sheldon Chumir Foundatio

Gender equality and the world we want to live in: Fairness and dignity for women in the developing world
* Lauryn Oates, Projects Director, Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan

Panel: "Honour Killings" in Canada
* Janet Keeping, President, Sheldon Chumir Foundation
* Alia Hogben, Executive Director, Canadian Council of Muslim Women
* Richelle Wiseman, Executive Director, Centre for Faith and the Media

Panel: How do we achieve dignity and respect for all in the face of diversity-inspired challenges?
* Salima Ebrahim, Co-Chair, Religions for Peace, North American Women of Faith Network
* Marilou McPhedran, Principal, University of Winnipeg Global College
* Aruna Papp, Consultant & Counsellor, Cultural Competency
* Morton Weinfeld, Professor, McGill University

Discussion Papers:
After the Symposium, and taking into account the feedback we receive on these discussion papers, we plan to release final versions to the public. Please send us your comments on these papers to feedback@chumir.ca.

* Concept paper on gender equality (stay tuned)
* "Honour" Killings in Canada: What needs to be said? What needs to be done?, by Janet Keeping
* The Honour Killings Debate in Canada, by Richelle Wiseman

Background Resources:
* Culturally driven violence against women: A growing problem in Canada’s immigrant communities, by Aruna Papp
* Religion versus the Charter, by Janice Gross Stein
* Openness to diversity doesn't mean everything "different" is good, by Janet Keeping
* What does misogyny look like?, by Lauryn Oates
* Name honour killings to stop the violence, by Richelle Wiseman

MDGs: Tracking progress on MDG six - HIV/AIDS

MDGs: Tracking progress on MDG six
NAIROBI, 21 September 2010 (PlusNews) - Significant strides have been made in the global fight against HIV, but major gaps remain that could prevent many countries from achieving UN Millennium Development Goal (MDG) six relating to HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases.

Access to treatment - More than five million people currently have access to life-prolonging antiretroviral drugs, a 12-fold increase over the past six years. However, this still represents just one third of people who need HIV treatment. In 2008, 38 percent of the 730,000 children estimated to need antiretrovirals (ARVs) in low- and middle-income countries had access to them. UNAIDS is calling for the implementation of a new treatment approach called "Treatment 2.0", to drastically scale up testing and treatment; it estimates that successful implementation of "Treatment 2.0" could avert 10 million deaths by 2025, and reduce new infections by a third.

New infections - Twenty-two of the worst affected countries in sub-Saharan Africa have reduced HIV incidence by more than 25 percent in the last eight years, according to UNAIDS. Some of the best performers in reducing new infections are Ethiopia, Nigeria, Zambia and Zimbabwe; HIV incidence is on the rise in Uganda, once a leader in the fight against HIV. Eastern Europe and Central Asia remain the only regions where incidence is increasing.

Prevention of mother-to-child transmission - According to the UN World Health Organization's (WHO) 2009 report, Towards Universal Access, the 20 countries with the highest burden of HIV among pregnant women have scaled up HIV counseling and testing to at least 75 percent of their antenatal care facilities.

Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania and Zambia are among the countries that provided HIV testing to 60-80 percent of pregnant women, while Botswana, Namibia and São Tomé and Principe exceeded the 80 percent mark.


Sept 21, United Nations International Day of Peace

Flanked by UN Messengers of Peace and Goodwill Ambassadors Midori Goto, Yuna Kim, Anggun, Catarina Furtado, Goedele Liekens and Elie Wiesel, Mr. Ban listened as a children’s choir played music.
In his remarks Mr. Ban acknowledged that young people are impatient, frustrated by poverty, injustice and environmental degradation.
'You are concerned that we, your elders, have not made greater headway against these threats,' he added, noting that world leaders will gather for a summit on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), a series of targets aiming to slash extreme hunger and poverty, maternal and infant mortality, disease and lack of access to education and health services, all by 2015.
'There have been remarkable gains, but we need faster progress – much, much faster. Young people can play a central role.'
Mr. Ban then opened a student conference attended by more than 600 young people in a UN hall and hundreds of others linked by video conference sites at UN peacekeeping missions around the world.
At a later tea gathering for peace with UN Association of Japan president Genshitsu Sen, Mr. Ban recalled his recent visit to Hiroshima. 'I will never forget meeting the survivors – the hibakusha – or their painful and moving testimony. I was very impressed and moved this morning when young students sang a song of peace with the piano which survived the atomic attack 65 years ago.'


DOUBLESPEAK: Hypocrisy and this Globalization Sh#t

DOUBLESPEAK: Hypocrisy and this Globalization Sh#t
Disoriented by globalization? From workshops to forums, to parties and performances, disOrientation introduces students to political activism, on campus and beyond. All events are free, wheelchair accessible, and open to everyone! disOrientation is hosted by the Ontario Public Interest Research Group and the University of Toronto Students’ Union. For more info, contact: opirg.toronto@gmail.com / vpexternal@utsu.ca

Rutgers: -Speakers advocate for humanist movement

Daily Targum - Speakers advocate for humanist movement

Rutgers: The Humanist Chaplaincy held their first meeting Monday night at the Student Activities Center on the College Avenue campus, featuring speeches by two distinguished leaders of the American Humanist Association.

AHA Executive Director Roy Speckhardt and Director of Development Maggie Ardiente discussed future plans for the growing demographic of atheists, agnostics and humanists — who focus on human values and concerns — in the country in their presentation titled “2020 Humanism: Achieving a Vision that Matches Our Aspirations.”The two presenters said this demographic calls for unity, community and increased assertion among its members in order to create a powerful and legitimate movement.

“Humanists and other free thinkers can learn a great deal from the successes of other movements,” Speckhardt said. By referencing the gay rights movement of the 1970s, Speckhardt said he hopes one day there will be tolerance of their non-theistic perspective.

“We must all come out as humanists, saying ‘We do not need a higher power to govern our lives,’” he said. Speckhardt and Ardiente discussed other issues the AHA hopes to tackle in the coming decade, including the advancement of gay rights, scientific research and community involvement outside the influence of the church

Speckhardt and Ardiente said the AHA is already working with the gay and lesbian community, establishing a council for those humanists who belong to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. By doing so, they can organize the growing number of LGBT humanists within their cause and lend reciprocal support to the gay rights movement, whose support both say comes naturally in the AHA.

Working at the university level, the University Chaplaincy hopes to address similar issues this year, which the AHA is working toward both nationally and internationally. “[Humanists] look at this lifetime and at this world as a source of information and an idea of who we are,” University Humanist Chaplain Barry Klassel said.


Event: Science for Peace: Climate Reality

Science for Peace: Climate Reality
Public talk with James Hansen, Naomi Klein and Clayton Thomas-Muller, Wednesday, September 15, 5:30pm at McMillan Theatre, Toronto
Science for Peace and The Centre for Global Change Science at the University of Toronto welcome the world’s foremost climate scientist and author of Storms of My Grandchildren, Dr. James Hansen, for 2 days of engagements, meetings with students and political lobbying, Wednesday, Sept. 15th and Thursday Sept. 16 in Toronto.

Joining Dr. Hansen at his main public speaking event, Wednesday, Sept. 15th are: the author of The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism Naomi Klein; Indigenous Environmental Network’s Tar Sands Campaigner, Clayton Thomas-Muller; and moderator Dr. Cynthia Wesley-Esquimaux (U of T Aboriginal Studies and Social Work).

Wednesday, September 15 at the McMillan Theatre (capacity: 800), Edward Johnson Bldg, 80 Queen’s Park
5:30pm – 6:30pm Science presentation by Dr. James Hansen
7:00pm to 8:45pm Climate Reality: A Conversation with Dr. James Hansen, Naomi Klein & Clayton Thomas-Muller, moderated by Cynthia Wesley- Esquimaux.

About Dr. Hansen:

Dr. James Hansen is one of the world’s foremost climate scientists. In his scientific work, Dr. Hansen has proven to be consistently accurate in his predictions. He has long been recognized as an authority on climate science and has been asked to give briefings to every U.S. administration since that of President George H.W. Bush. Overseas, he most recently spoke to the Club of Rome, at the United Nations University in Tokyo and to the French National Assembly.
Dr. Hansen will be able to discuss the most recent scientific findings about climate change, about what can be accurately predicted and about areas of uncertainty, and about his own recommendations of a complete phase-out of coal. You will find in him an accessible and humane man, deeply concerned about the welfare of future generations.


Statement re intent to burn Qur'an

Chaplains Gail McCabe and Mary Beaty have endorsed the following statement by the Ontario Humanist Society:

The Ontario Humanist Society notes the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) has condemned a planned public burning of the Qur'an by a Florida church on the 9th anniversary of the 11 September 2001 attacks. IHEU is the world union of more than 100 Humanist, rationalist, secular, ethical culture, atheist and freethought organizations in more than 40 countries.

With regard to the announcement by churches in the United States that they intend to burn copies of the Qur'an, The Ontario Humanist Society also condemns the intention of anyone to burn, deface, or destroy books, artifacts, or any other works of art, religion, philosophy or expression.

 "Where they burn books, so too will they in the end burn human beings". -- Heinrich Heine: Almansor: A Tragedy (1823)
Wisdom comes from open minds, and open books. In a global world of many people and cultures, we should call for understanding, communication, respect and cooperation between peoples. We should learn from each other, listen to each other, and teach each other, from many sources and diverse inspirations.  Burning or destroying books is a regressive and provocative act of cultural violence, and an attack on freedom of thought, freedom of expression and freedom of conscience. Such actions promote violence instead of dialogue, intolerance instead of tolerance.We regret and condemn any such action in the spirit of humanity.

What is the relation between religious laws and state laws?

What is the relation between religious laws and state laws?
Interesting discussion in the Ottawa Citizen by representatives of various faith/secular groups. It is somewhat at odds with the information provided by Isfahan Merali, the former Anti-Racism and Cultural Diversity officer at University of Toronto, in her references to Human Rights, Protection and Accomodation of Creed, which refers to the relationship between the Ontario Human Rights Code, and the Charter of Rights.


Event: rally for One School System Sept 13

From Simon Parcher, President of HAC
September 13 · 11:30am - 2:30pm
Location Fairmont Royal York Hotel, Toronto
100 Front Street W, Toronto

Member organizations of One School System will protest the discrepant funding of Ontario Catholic Schools via a Separate School Board in defiance of two UN disciplinary rulings against the Government on Ontario.

On September 13-14, the Ontario government will host an international two-day summit on education: The Building Blocks for Education: Whole System Reform. There will be speakers from six countries

There will be a demonstration on September 13th in Toronto, at the Royal York where the conference is being held, to tell about the world about the disastrous educational policy we have in the province of Ontario. We want to push for one school system for all.

It's been eleven years since the UN made a ruling that Ontario's education policy of having separate school systems is discriminatory.

Consider this: With only one school system we would free up $250.00 PER CHILD or about $7,500 PER CLASSROOM per year! The Ontario Provincial Government is not going to take action unless the electorate makes one school system an issue. In other words a grassroots has to galvanize itself to make a lot of noise.
Come join your fellow humanists and atheists along with other individuals and groups who oppose the public funding of religious schools in Ontario


News: New Humanist Student Center at Harvard opens

News from Greg Epstein @ Harvard:
We are delighted to announce that this fall, the Humanist Chaplaincy at Harvard will welcome students to our new Humanist Student and Community Center at 19 Arrow Street! This center is the first of its kind on any campus in the US. Our new 1000-square foot storefront office is in a perfect location near Harvard Square; hear me talk about it on NPR's Radio Boston

We'll be holding open houses on the first Tuesday evening of every month, so save those dates to check us out, ask basic questions about Humanism and/or our activities! Beyond that we're planning programs and events to interest a wide variety of participants. See our website for initial details:

Support for our lease of this space comes primarily through a generous gift from an individual with no particular connection to Harvard but who became aware of our organization by way of my book, Good without God. This individual decided that HCH is uniquely positioned to help pioneer a new model of Humanist community and educational work, and to develop Humanist leaders

BOOK: Stephen Hawking: God NOT Needed For Creation

Stephen Hawking: God NOT Needed For Creation
(cross-posted to HumanistNewswire.com)

LONDON — Did creation need a creator? British physicist and mathematician Stephen Hawking says no, arguing in his new book that there need not be a God behind the creation of the universe. The concept is explored in "The Grand Design," excerpts of which were printed in The Times on Thursday. The book, written with fellow physicist Leonard Mlodinow, is scheduled to be published by Bantam Press on Sept. 9.

'The Grand Design,' which the publishers call Hawking's first major work in nearly a decade, challenges Isaac Newton's theory God must have been involved in creation because our solar system couldn't have come out of chaos simply through nature. But Hawking says it isn't that simple. To understand the universe, it's necessary to know both how and why it behaves the way it does, calling the pursuit "the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything." (nod to Douglas Adams)

Hawking, who is renowned for his work on black holes, said the 1992 discovery of another planet orbiting a star other than the sun makes "the coincidences of our planetary conditions ... far less remarkable and far less compelling as evidence that the Earth was carefully designed just to please us human beings." In his best-selling 1988 book "A Brief History of Time," Hawking appeared to accept the possibility of a creator, saying the discovery of a complete theory would "be the ultimate triumph of human reason – for then we should know the mind of God."

But "The Grand Design" seems to step away from that, saying physics can explain things without the need for a "benevolent creator who made the Universe for our benefit. Because there is a law such as gravity, the Universe can and will create itself from nothing," the excerpt says. "Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the Universe exists, why we exist. It is not necessary to invoke God to ... set the Universe going."

Hawking retired last year as the Lucasian Chair of Mathematics at Cambridge University after 30 years in the position. The position was once held by Newton.


Lecture: What would Darwin say to today's creationists?

Many creationist arguments would be familiar to Darwin. But others--such as Young Earth Creationism--would have baffled him. Genie Scott of the National Centre for Science Education (US) explores the then and now of creationism, at the University of Chicago's 2009 Darwin Celebration.


World Humanitarian Day - 19 August

World Humanitarian Day - 19 August
Humanitarian Principles represent the foundation of humanitarian action. Key humanitarian principles include:
Humanity: Human suffering must be addressed wherever it is found. The purpose of humanitarian action is to protect life and health and ensure respect for human beings.

Neutrality: Humanitarian actors must not take sides in hostilities or engage in controversies of a political, racial, religious or ideological nature.

Impartiality: Humanitarian action must be carried out on the basis of need alone, giving priority to the most urgent cases of distress and making no distinctions on the basis of nationality, race, gender, religious belief, class or political opinion.

Operational Independence: Humanitarian action must be autonomous from the political, economic, military or other objectives that any actor may hold with regard to areas where humanitarian action is being implemented".

The General Assembly of the United Nations adopted in its Plenary Session on 11th December 2008, the Swedish sponsored Omnibus Resolution on “Strengthening of the Coordination of Emergency Humanitarian Assistance of the United Nations”, that carried the historic decision by the world body, to designate the 19th August as World Humanitarian Day to honor all humanitarian and the United Nations and associated personnel who have lost their lives in the cause of duty and those who have worked in the promotion of the humanitarian cause. The Resolution invites all Member States, the United Nation system, within existing resources, as well as other international organizations and non-governmental organizations to observe the day annually in an appropriate manner. This is a major historic landmark for the Humanitarian Sphere and a great gain for all victims of armed conflict.


Toronto is now honouring "artists, thinkers and scientists".

Plaques Mark Toronto's Heritage Heroes - Torontoist

See the EARLIER POST on the British Humanist Association Humanist Heritage blue plaque program for comparison.

While London has blue plaques and New York City has bronze plaques and medallions, Paris has thousands of plaques mounted throughout that city paying homage to citizens who died in its defense during the Second World War. Cities the world over honour distinguished citizens and the places they lived — or, in the case of Paris, where they died — with a variety of heritage programs.

So how does Toronto recognize citizens who made a significant  contribution to the character of this city, and mark the location where  they domiciled? Until recently, it was through an ingenuously named heritage program known as Cabbagetown People. Since 2002, Cabbagetown People has honoured a slew of Heritage Heroes [PDF] (their terminology), commemorating the likes of author Morley Callaghan and world-famous magician  Doug Henning. Though well-intentioned, this heritage program lacked  scope, recognizing only those Heritage Heroes who had resided in the  Cabbagetown neighbourhood.

Like other metropolitan centres, Toronto was in need of a citywide  commemorative plaques program. Earlier this year, that's finally what it  got.In March, Mayor David Miller, along with Toronto’s first poet laureate Dennis Lee, and representatives from Heritage Toronto and the Toronto Legacy Project launched the Heritage Toronto Legacy Plaques Program. The citywide heritage program  recognizes Toronto’s artists, thinkers, and scientists by identifying  their homes or other significant locations in their lives.

Humanists may wish to RECOMMEND candidates or to recognize humanist luminaries in a similar program.  Ideas welcome.

Petition for Freedom of Expression, Democracy and Human Rights in Canada

We have endorsed this important petition (link). You may wish to consider signing on behalf of individuals or groups.

"Since 2006 the Government of Canada has systematically undermined democratic institutions and practices, and has eroded the protection of free speech, and other fundamental human rights.  It has deliberately set out to silence the voices of organizations or individuals who raise concerns about government policies or disagree with government positions. It has weakened Canada’s international standing as a leader in human rights.  The impact and consequences for the health of democracy, freedom of expression, and the state of human rights protection in Canada are unparalleled.

Organizations that disagree with the Government’s positions and/or engage in advocacy have had their mandates criticised and their funding threatened, reduced or discontinued.  In many cases these organizations have a long history of service to the public, such as KAIROS, MATCH International, the Canadian Council for International Co-operation, Alternatives, the Canadian Arab Federation, the Climate Action Network, the National Association of Women and the Law and the Canadian Research Institute for the Advancement of Women.  The Court Challenges Program, which funded many human-rights cases, has had its mandate drastically reduced. The Women’s Program at Status of Women Canada now effectively excludes many women’s groups that conduct research and work to advance women’s equality and participation in society.

Individuals have been personally sanctioned in response to their efforts to defend democratic and human rights principles.  Linda Keen, President of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission and three managers from the highly respected organization Rights and Democracy have all been summarily dismissed.  Peter Tinsley, Chair of the Military Police Complaints Commission, was not renewed in his position. Diplomat Richard Colvin was intimidated and derided for his parliamentary testimony about the torture of Afghan detainees handed over by the Canadian military. Partisan appointments to the board of directors of Rights and Democracy resulted in the resignation of internationally renowned board members and have thrown the organization into crisis.

Further, an unprecedented level of secrecy now shrouds a long list of government activities and decisions, making it increasingly difficult for the public to hold the government accountable across a range of fundamentally important issues.  Robert Marleau, the Federal Information Commissioner, has reported that access to information regarding government action has been restricted.  Diplomats, leaders of governmental agencies, public officials, senior military officers, and scientists at Environment Canada are being pressured to obey a law of silence and censored from communicating to the Canadian public.

The Government has eroded freedom of the press by exercising central control of the information available to journalists.  It abused the right to prorogue Parliament in order to avoid serious allegations that the Canadian military has been complicit in the torture of Afghan detainees.

The Government has taken positions domestically and within such key international bodies as the UN General Assembly and the UN Human Rights Council that undermine essential human rights, environmental and other global principles.  The government’s actions have set back or weakened crucial international human rights initiatives such as global protection of the rights of Indigenous peoples, a worldwide moratorium on executions, more effective protection of human rights in the Middle East, protection against torture, the rights of gays and lesbians, the rights of women,  and the rights of children.  Among many distressing examples, since the Supreme Court of Canada found that Canada is responsible for continuing violations of Omar Khadr’s human rights, the government’s response has been grossly inadequate and a source of shame on the world stage.

In this context, Canadian democratic institutions, civil society organizations, and human rights defenders have been weakened, marginalized and silenced. Their capacity to monitor and safeguard the respect for democracy, free speech, and other rights is in jeopardy. The quality and health of democratic life in Canada is under serious threat.

United, we call upon the Government of Canada to:
1. Respect the right to freedom of opinion and expression. Therefore,
  • Cease to deliberately target those who speak out against government policies with the use of smear campaigns, dismissal from employment, funding cuts, blatant and subtle threats, regulations designed to obfuscate and prevent public debate, and other acts of bad faith.
  • Commit to parliamentary hearings in the Fall of 2010 that address widespread concerns about the loss of democratic space in Canada.
2. Act in accordance with Canada’s democratic traditions and values. Therefore,
  • Actively promote and support political diversity and public debate, instead of avoiding it.
  • Recognize and respect the vital role, expertise, and necessary independence of civil society organizations.
3. Be transparent. Therefore,
  • Demonstrate full respect for and accountability to the Parliament of Canada and the Canadian People.
  • Allow complete access for Canadians to information regarding public policy decisions.
  • Base funding decisions for government and civil society organizations on fair standards and democratic principles, instead of partisan agendas.


U of T Plans to Amalgamate its Languages and Literatures - Torontoist

U of T Plans to School its Languages and Literatures
Last Monday, as the University of Toronto re-opened in the wake of the G20, departments and centres across its Faculty of Arts and Science returned to the bureaucratic version of the relationship death knell "we need to talk". They learned that if a recommendation being made by the faculty’s Strategic Planning Committee went through, departments across the humanities would be dissolved within the year, with a lucky few to be resurrected, franken-style, under the monolithic umbrella of a single "School of Languages and Literatures."

The proposed School of L&L would amalgamate the current departments of East Asian Studies, Italian Studies, Germanic Languages and Literatures, Slavic Languages and Literatures, and Spanish and Portuguese. The Centre of Comparative Literature, which currently offers MA and PhD programs, would be embedded in the school and redefined as a collaborative program, unable to grant degrees independently. The Centre for Ethics and The Centre for Diaspora and Transnational Studies, a research centre and graduate collaborative program respectively, would be abandoned entirely.

None of this is a done deal, though it is being presented that way by those who have brought the recommendation forward. In September, the Faculty of Arts and Science plans to hold a series of town hall meetings, consulting with faculty, students, and other stakeholders. Then, according to the faculty's timeline, the departments affected will figure out how to dissolve and amalgamate themselves by December so that their proposal can be hustled up the U of T bureaucratic ladder by July 2011...

The Centre for Comparative Literature arguably stands to suffer the most from this proposal, losing its degree programs entirely. The centre, established over forty years ago by Northrop Frye, offers a unique program that "enables the kind of research that is genuinely comparative or interdisciplinary, research that does not fit neatly into any of the traditional disciplines," says Neil ten Kortenaar, the centre's chair. Comp lit students and faculty are adamant that a collaborative degree—like a minor, but at the graduate level—is an empty, conciliatory gesture on the Strategic Planning Committee's part...

Oversights like these are illogical at best. Many students whose departments are being incorporated worry that the School of Languages and Literatures intends to focus on language to the exclusion of literature, that this is part of an overall movement away from critical and theoretical thinking in favour of more pragmatic interests within the humanities. Some are concerned that the School of L&L is being created as a place to groom diplomatic, internationally relevant skills such as translation rather than as one for cutting-edge scholarship.

Gertler says this is "completely false. It is far too premature to judge what the school will focus on." Still, the fact remains that the proposed School of Languages and Literatures—coupled with the outright axing of the Centre for Ethics and the Centre for Diaspora Studies —will have a profound effect on the study of humanities at the University of Toronto. Far from promoting diversity, the School of L&L risks homogenizing the way that languages and literature are studied, making it difficult for students and faculty alike to meaningfully pursue scholarship that falls outside very narrowly defined categories.