Mar 1: Science4Peace, Corporations / Environmental impact

Join us for a free public lecture at 4-6pm on March 1, 2012 in Room 087 (basement) of University College (15 King’s College Circle, Toronto, ON) by: Gail Henderson, SJD Candidate, Faculty of Law, University of Toronto Gail’s research focuses on the role of corporations in fulfilling society’s obligations to preserve the environment for future generations. In particular, her research asks whether directors’ fiduciary duty ought to include a duty to minimize the corporation’s environmental impacts. This lecture is part of the Vital Discussions of Human Security series which is co-sponsored by University College Health Studies Programme, Canadian Pugwash Group, Science for Peace and Voice of Women for Peace.


Losing Faith in Faith: An Intimate Conversation with Dan Barker

 Losing Faith in Faith: An Intimate Conversation with Dan Barker

University College, U of T, 15 Kings College Circle, Room 240  4-6pm

The University of Toronto Secular Alliance presents:
Losing Faith in Faith: An Intimate Conversation with Dan Barker

Dan Barker is the Co-President of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, which is now the largest organization of freethinkers. He is also an accomplished musician and songwriter. However, what makes his story fascinating is that he began his career as an Evangelical preacher.

At the age of 15, Dan accepted Christ as his savior and a few months later accepted what he felt was a calling to join the ministry. Dan received a degree in Religion at Azusa Pacific University and was ordained into the ministry by the Standard Community Church, California, in 1975. Barker also co-pastored in three different churches, and for eight years he was a cross-country Evangelist. He preached for a total of nineteen years and has over two hundred published and recorded Christian songs that he has composed.

To this end, UTSA has invited Mr. Barker to recall the accomplishments and the struggles of his journey during a presentation at the University of Toronto; in the hope that his story serves as inspiration to those whom are finding the transition from theism to atheism difficult--be it intellectually or emotionally.

With this in mind, we are providing students and the community with a unique and exclusive opportunity to not only listen to Dan speak about his story; but you will also have the opportunity to engage in conversation with Mr. Barker throughout his presentation. What makes this format unique and fruitful--for everyone involved--is that whilst we hope that Mr. Barker serves as inspirational figure to those who are struggling; we also welcome you, and in fact encourage you, to critically question any and all claims made during the presentation. That said, however, I stress that you are free to do so at your own risk; and more importantly, you must do so respectfully.

This event is free to the public and made possible by the UTSA in conjunction with the Centre for Inquiry. Space is limited and on a first-come-first-serve basis.

For more information about the UTSA visit: or contact us at

For information about the Freedom From Religion Foundation visit:


Science Weekly podcast: Can science ever explain consciousness?

Science Weekly podcast: Can science ever explain consciousness?
Australian philosopher David Chalmers called it 'the hard problem'. For a long time the exclusive preserve of philosophy, understanding the conscious mind is fast becoming an important field of research in neuroscience. This week's edition of Science Weekly is dedicated to the endeavour.

The annual meeting of the Association for the Scientific Study of Consciousness comes to the UK in the summer, and on 7 March at the Royal Institution in London, Science Weekly presenter Alok Jha will host a debate entitled Consciousness: The Hard Problem?

To discuss this slippery subject ahead of the debate Alok brought the three leading researchers and thinkers who will be participating into the Science Weekly studio: Dr Anil Seth, co-director of the Sackler Centre for Consciousness Science at Sussex University; Professor Chris Frith, professor emeritus at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging at University College London; and Professor Barry Smith, director of the Institute of Philosophy at the School of Advanced Study, University of London

What if Series 2011-12, March 14, HH "Secular and Sacred"

What if Series 2011-12
Sponsored by Hart House, the Multi-Faith Centre, Hillel of Greater Toronto, Ecumenical Shared Chaplaincy.
Each session includes the voices, opinions and lived experiences of students and special guests, recorded in front of a live studio audience, followed by a Q&A period and free pizza lunch.All conversations are recorded live and rebroadcast on CIUT.
Where: Hart House (Map Room, 1st floor), 7 Hart House Circle, University of Toronto Cost: Free

Wednesday March 14, 2012. 4-5 p.m.
What if there was no secular/religious divide? Join Prof. Pamela Klassen, Director of Religion in the Public Sphere program and Mehdi Zabet, President of the Secular Alliance as they discuss in a town hall the relationship between the secular and the sacred. Free Food!


Science for Peace: The Importance of Evidence-Based Policy Development

Science for Peace: The Importance of Evidence-Based Policy Development

Dr. Munir Sheikh, former Chief Statistician of Canada
Tuesday February 28th 17:00 – 19:00
Room 252 Mechanical Engineering
5 King’s College Road, U of T

Please join us for a free public lecture on by Dr. Munir Sheikh , former Chief Statistician of Canada and currently Distinguished Fellow at the School of Policy Studies at Queens University, and Distinguished Visiting Scholar at the School of Public Policy and Administration, Carleton University. (Dr. Sheikh resigned when Harper rejected the statistical long form census).

Norma Andrade | Amnesty International Canada - Protecting Individuals at Risk

Norma Andrade | Amnesty International Canada - Protecting Individuals at Risk
Norma Andrade has been knifed. This is the second time she has been viciously attacked in 3 months

Norma Andrade was with her grandchildren when she responded to a knock at the door by an unknown man at 9:00 a.m. on February 3rd. He then attacked her with a knife. She was cut on her cheek, but managed to defend herself before he fled. Norma’s condition is now stable, and she was released from hospital the following day. But she fears for her life.

Norma is a founder of May Our Daughters Return Home, an organisation seeking investigation into the rape, abduction and murder of hundreds of women in Ciudad Juárez, a Mexican border town near El Paso Texas.

Only two months before this recent attack, Norma was shot at five times outside her previous home in Ciudad Juárez. She was treated in hospital for her injuries for several days. The hospital discharged her after staff received anonymous threats that they would be killed if they continued to provide treatment. Norma and her family sought refuge by going into hiding in faraway Mexico City. Authorities promised to provide protection. Yet her life is still in danger.

This new attack appears to be part of a targeted campaign against Norma and her efforts to investigate the deaths of hundreds of women and girls in Ciudad Juárez over the past two decades. Amnesty International believes she is in imminent danger and should be provided with effective protection.

Another World is Possible.But Is Another War Probable? Teach-In on The Geopolitics of War and Sanctions Against Iran

Another World is Possible.But Is Another War Probable?
Teach-In The Geopolitics of War and Sanctions Against Iran
Saturday February 25th 10:45am to 5pm
Sidney Smith Hall - Room 2102
University of Toronto
100 St. George Street Toronto, ON
Science for Peace (
$10 donation or Pay What You Can (PWYC)

Keynote speaker: Sara Flounders
Co-Chair of the International Action Center
“Washington and its allies are using the IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency] document to threaten all-out war. Weeks before the report was released, the U.S. and Israel were already threatening a military strike as a direct response to the supposedly secret document.
“The United States possesses over 10,000 nuclear weapons; Israel has an estimated 300. Iran has none. The U.S. remains the only country in the world that has used nuclear weapons in a war. Both the U.S. and Israel have a long history of invading and occupying other countries. Iran has no such record. On November 2, Israel test-fired a missile said to be capable of carrying a nuclear warhead and reaching Iranian territory” (International Action Center).

Sara Flounders works on the threats facing the world. Her article on the silence surrounding the exemption of military greenhouse gas emissions under the Kyoto Protocol was the winner of Project Censored top 25 articles for 2009-2010 news stories.

Iran: Mohamad Tavakoli-Targhi (U of T), Victoria Tahmasebi (U of T), Shadi Chaleshtoori (York U)
Canada: Yves Engler (author)
Israel and Russia: Yakov Rabkin (U of Montreal)
Global networks of power: Robert Latham (York U)

Human Rights Watch 2012 |

Human Rights Watch 2012 |
Human Rights Watch 2012 (February 29 - March 9)
Toronto's most humanist film festival is back for its ninth year, once again taking place at TIFF Bell Lightbox. Human Rights Watch is actually a traveling festival that brings a specially curated selection of about a dozen films to nine major cities in North America, and also to London, England. This year's festival includes a couple of titles from TIFF last September (The Island President, Habibi) as well as one of the bigger audience hits from last year's Hot Docs (The Bully Project). Tickets are on sale now; regular Lightbox prices apply to all screenings.Whether documentary or fiction, films on human rights issues can not only change the way people see the world and affect their future actions, but in some cases — such as Pamela Yates' Granito — can actually become instruments of justice in themselves. Offering sobering accounts of oppression, violence, and intolerance occurring worldwide, the films in this year's Human Rights Watch Film Festival also allows us to experience the courage of the victims of and fighters against injustice, who share their stories of survival and their inspiring will to rebuild their lives. In their unblinking confrontation with suffering, these films offer hope that the very act of bearing witness can in itself help prevent the occurrence of further atrocities. — Alex Rogal


After Egypt revolution, women's taste of equality fades

After Egypt revolution, women's taste of equality fades

(from the UN News website).....Once at the vanguard of the protest movement, women have yet to gain any significant influence in the new Egypt, revealing the complexities of defining gender rights in a nation colored by Islam, inundated by Western media permissiveness and ruled by military men operating in a cloistered realm of gold stars and salutes.

The army council that replaced Mubarak's corrupt regime has been harsh, subjecting female dissidents to "virginity tests" to intimidate them, and in December beating and ripping the clothes off female demonstrators, including one stripped to her blue bra, an image that became an icon for an unfinished rebellion.

Political power has shifted to the hands of Islamists. The Muslim Brotherhood and the ultraconservative Salafis control more than 70% of the seats in the parliament, a prospect that worries women seeking equality on social matters such as education and divorce. Only five women have seats among the assembly's 508 elected and appointed members. In 2010, a year after Mubarak enacted a quota system to expand the female presence, 68 women won parliament seats.

The military later abolished the quota, another sign the feminist agenda was stalled against more powerful and patriarchal designs.

Nawal Saadawi, 80, silver hair in pigtails, has fought for women over a lifetime. One of Egypt's leading writers and its most eloquent feminist, she's been at her desk for years, immortalizing women in her dozens of books about fictitious women and women very real. Her titles can sting with indictment: "She Has No Place in Paradise." Women, she says, have been betrayed in today's Egypt of mullahs and generals.

"We don't hear the voice of women," she says. "We're not allowed to speak. I've written 47 books that paved the way for women, so why am I not allowed to speak?"...
It is disrespectful for a woman's dignity when she has to take to the streets to defend her rights," says Manal Aboul Hassan, head of the women's committee for the Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party. "Does not she have a husband, a brother or a son to defend her?"

Publicly the Brotherhood espouses equality. However, it doesn't grant women seats on its leadership council, and many of its members oppose the idea of a woman, or a Christian, ever serving as Egypt's president. A new book, "The Memoirs of a Former Sister: My Story With the Muslim Brotherhood," attacks what its author, Intissar Abdel Moneim, calls the subservient role the organization forces on female members.

Abdel Moneim criticizes the teachings of the Brotherhood's founder, Hassan Banna, as relegating women to "catering to their husbands' desires and to reproduction."


The Big Green Question

George Monbiot – The Big Green Question
Is environmentalism compatible with social justice?

By George Monbiot. Published on the Guardian’s website, 13th February 2012

It is the stick with which the greens are beaten daily: if we spend money on protecting the environment, the poor will starve, or freeze to death, or will go without shoes and education. Most of those making this argument do so disingenuously: they support the conservative or libertarian politics that keep the poor in their place and ensure that the 1% harvest the lion’s share of the world’s resources.

Journalists writing for the corporate press, with views somewhere to the right of Vlad the Impaler and no prior record of concern for the poor, suddenly become their doughty champions when the interests of the proprietorial class are threatened. If tar sands cannot be extracted in Canada, they maintain, subsistence farmers in Africa will starve. If Tesco’s profits are threatened, children will die of malaria. When it is done cleverly, promoting the interests of corporations and the ultra-rich under the guise of concern for the poor is an effective public relations strategy.


Jalees Rehman, M.D.: Reacting to Reactionary Muslims

Jalees Rehman, M.D.: Reacting to Reactionary Muslims

Last week, the Saudi writer and blogger Hamza Kashgari tweeted about Prophet Muhammad and his tweets caused an unanticipated fire-storm of outrage among many Saudis. They formed an "electronic lynch mob" and responded with hate-filled tweets, Face-book posts, comments, threats and YouTube videos, calling for the arrest and punishment of Kashgari.

A prominent Saudi cleric accused Kashgari of apostasy ("Ridda"), which could be punishable by death under Saudi law. Multiple sites reported that an arrest warrant was issued by the King of Saudi-Arabia, even though Kashgari deleted his tweets and apologized for them. Realizing that his life was in danger, Kashgari escaped from Saudi-Arabia. However, at the request of the Saudi authorities, Kashgari was detained mid-journey by the Malaysian police at the Kuala Lumpur airport, so that he was unable to reach his destination New Zealand, where he had intended to ask for political asylum...

... there are indeed a number of Muslims in Muslim countries who may be willing to oppose the reactionary-conservative movements, but it also reminds us that they need additional support, both from within Muslim countries as well as from outside.

Muslims living in North America or Europe can provide some degree of support by increasing the awareness of the problems. Mosques or Muslim community centers in North America and Europe rarely discuss the suppression of dissenting religious views in Muslim countries. Another step is to contact national organizations such as ISNA and CAIR and request that they intervene on behalf of Muslims and non-Muslims alike who suffer under oppressive Muslim governments that use religious injunctions to stifle dissenting views in matters of religion.

Hopefully, CAIR and ISNA will not only criticize the violation of Kashgari's freedom of expression by the Saudi government but also take a broader approach to help protect the freedom of expression of journalists, writers, thinkers, academics, artists as well as all others who wish to express their opinions in Muslim countries without having to fear punishments and retributions by governments or vigilante mobs.


What Nonbelievers Believe | Psychology Today

What Nonbelievers Believe | Psychology Today (David Niose is president of the American Humanist Association)
So strong is the concept of God-belief in our culture that the words "believer" and "nonbeliever" are understood as referring to only one thing: belief in a divinity. This can lead to some distorted thinking, such as the idea that "atheists don't believe in anything," a notion echoed even by high-profile politicians who should know better, such as Senator John Kerry. If this is conventional wisdom, it's little wonder that disbelief is often associated, incorrectly, with nihilism and moral breakdown.

This is one reason why the modern secular movement has become increasingly assertive in emphasizing what ordinary nonbelievers do believe. Typical secular views are rooted not in complex philosophy but common sense, and when they are fairly considered - without misguided prejudices - we find that they are neither extreme nor dangerous...


COOKING FOR A CAUSE - Oxfam. Hart House by Feb 6

(NOTE: OXFAM is a non-religious, non-partisan aid organization - the good guys :-)
COOKING FOR A CAUSE: Contest deadline is Monday, February 6, 2012!Printer Friendly

DETAILS: There’s still time to get your recipe contest entry in! If you’ve got a great way to make a nutritious meal on a student budget, share your best ideas and you could win. Contest deadline is Monday, February 6. Not a cook but still like to eat? Then you’ll want to come out for the Cooking for a Cause final judging and tasting event on Thursday, February 16 at 6:30 pm in the Music Room at Hart House. Join us as a panel of judges from Hart House, Campbell’s and Campus Food and Beverage make their picks. Presentations by David Kranenburg, Executive Director of Meal Exchange Canada, as well as student representatives from the Meal Exchange and Oxfam UofT. Bring your appetites – we’ll provide the cutlery and prizes. FREE

WHEN: Thursday, February 16, 2012 at 6:30pm
WHERE: Hart House Music Room, Hart House, 7 Hart House Circle, University of Toronto (St. George Campus), Toronto.
THE COOKING FOR A CAUSE JUDGES WILL BE Hart House Executive Chef Marco Tucci, Campus Food and Beverage Director Jaco Lokker and Campbell’s Cause Marketing Manager Aaron Nemoy. Presentations will also be made by Meal Exchange and Oxfam UofT representatives.

UofT, J'accuse, Feb 3, 7:30, Hart Housse

University of Toronto Events Calendar
Feb 03, 7:30 - 9:30 pmJoin us for an evening of powerful dramatic readings from Hassan Diab, Emile Zola, and others who have broken the silence and spoken out about the injustices they face. Attorney Barbara Jackman will also speak at this event.

When: Friday February 3rd, 2012 at 7:30pm
Where: Music Room, Hart House, University of Toronto, 7 Hart House Circle, Toronto, ON, M5S 3H3
Sponsored by Science for Peace.

In 1894 Alfred Dreyfus, a Jewish French soldier, was charged with treason. The accusation, based on fraudulent handwriting analysis, unleashed waves of anti-Semitism. Eminent French writer Emile Zola wrote J’Accuse to expose “the spectre of the innocent man who, far away, is suffering the most atrocious of tortures for a crime he did not commit — It is a crime to exploit patriotism for works of hate.”

Right now, exactly repeating the past, France rests its case against Hassan Diab on the basis of fraudulent handwriting analysis. In this climate of Islamophobia, France has asked the Canadian government to comply and to extradite Hassan Diab where he faces an unfair trial that could land him in jail for life. He remains under house arrest in Canada. Visit for more information.

UT Students explore the legacy of Uganda’s child soldiers

Students explore the legacy of Uganda’s child soldiers | News
A passion for humanitarian work recently prompted a pair of University of Toronto undergraduate students to investigate the plight of child soldiers in Uganda. Now, after spending over three months in the country, they are taking their findings to the United Nations and elsewhere for action.
The students found the children are viewed as both victims and criminals, and say a more careful look at the reintegration and reconciliation process is required. Both agree there needs to be a victim-centered approach to justice for these war-time atrocities.
“We looked primarily at questions of justice for these children and the process of reintegration into their communities. Some of them were forced to commit crimes in their own communities,” said Atri.