UN passes first resolution condeming female genital mutilation

UN passes first resolution condeming female genital mutilation | The Raw Story
NITED NATIONS — The UN General Assembly on Monday passed its first resolution condemning female genital mutilation, which opponents say more than 140 million women worldwide have had to endure.
Though outlawed in most nations, the measure represents the first time the traditional practice in African and Middle East nations has been denounced at such a high level in the United Nations.
More than 110 countries, including more than 50 African nations, co-sponsored the resolution in the General Assembly’s rights committee, which called on states to “complement punitive measures with awareness-raising and educational activities” to eliminate female genital mutilation.
About 140 million women worldwide are believed to have been subjected to the practice in which a young girl’s clitoris and labia are removed, in the belief that this will reduce libido and keep a woman chaste. About three million women and girls each year are said to be forced to undergo the procedure.
“We will continue to spare no efforts with a final objective: ending female genital mutilations in one generation. Today, this goal appears closer than ever,” said Cesare Ragaglini, UN ambassador for Italy, which has played a leading role in international efforts to eradicate the practice.
He called the UN resolution a “powerful tool” against widespread resistance because it would take condemnation and calls for new measures to another level.
“It is up to us now to exploit it in a more effective way,” Ragaglini said.


Avaaz - Hours to stop Uganda's horrific anti-gay law

Avaaz - Hours to stop Uganda's horrific anti-gay law

To President Museveni of Uganda, Ugandan Parliamentary Speaker Rebecca Kadaga, Members of the Parliament, and world leaders:

We stand with citizens across Uganda who are calling on their government to withdraw once and for all the Anti-Homosexual Bill, and to protect the universal human rights embodied in the Ugandan constitution. We urge Uganda’s leaders and key partner countries to join us in rejecting persecution and upholding values of justice and tolerance.
The Ugandan Parliament is set to pass a brutal law that may carry the death penalty for homosexuality. If they do, thousands of Ugandans could face execution or life imprisonment -- just for being gay.

We've helped stop this bill before, and we can do it again. After a massive global outcry last year, Ugandan President Museveni blocked the bill's progress. But political unrest is mounting in Uganda, and religious extremists in Parliament are hoping confusion and violence in the streets will distract the international community from a second push to pass this hate-filled law. We can show them that the world is still watching.


Humanist Society paper on Creed submitted to OHRC is now published

In response to the Ontario Humanist Society presentation by Humanist Chaplain Dr. Gail McCabe to the Ontario Human Rights Commission  Policy Dialogue on Creed, held at the Multifaith Centre in January, 2012, we have received this notification of the publication of our paper:

Dear contributors,
I am pleased to inform you that your papers produced for the January 2012
Policy Dialogue on Creed are now online on our website at the following url:


You may also be interested in visiting the OHRC webpage linked below, which features updates and documents produced as part of the current creed policy update.

Please also see the url link below to papers that were presented at a March
2012 Legal Workshop on Creed, Human Rights and Freedom of Religion at York

We welcome your feedback on the content of any of these paper. Please direct these to creed@ohrc.on.ca.  I am also currently working on a Discussion Paper that we hope to put out some time in the new year, at which time yourfeedback will also be very much welcomed.

Thank you once again for your thoughtful contributions.

Best Regards,
Remi Warner Ph.D.
Senior Policy Analyst
Policy, Education, Monitoring & Outreach
Ontario Human Rights Commission
180 Dundas Street West, Suite 900,
Toronto, ON CANADA   M7A 2R9

Write for Rights with Amnesty International on Human Rights Day, Dec. 10th

Write for Rights with Amnesty International on Human Rights Day, Dec. 10th
Humanist Groups may wish to organize a Write for Rights on Human Rights Day, Dec 10
Prepare yourself to save a life on December 10th 

Narges Mohammadi
is detained in Iran for defending women's rights. See her letter-writing action.
It's time to get ready to Write for Rights!
We've shown that together we can save lives, and you can once again be a part of our massive, life-saving effort on December 10, as Amnesty International mobilizes its full world-wide membership to take action.

Be a part of Write for Rights 2012 by SIGNING UP NOW.

You can choose to write one or several letters, sign an online petition, or organize a Write for Rights event with your friends, family or colleagues - one of hundreds of events we anticipate across Canada, and one of thousands taking place around the world on International Human Rights Day.

Last year Amnesty International supporters in 80 countries wrote over 1 million letters on International Human Rights Day!  

We know that the influence of letters or a huge petition tips the balance and persuades a government leader to do the right thing. We know that our efforts get results.

Will it be YOUR letter that tips the balance and saves a life? 

Each letter-writing case featured this year also allows you to write a letter of solidarity and bring hope to people who can feel hopeless.

Sign-up to write on your own | Sign-up to organize a letter-writing event with friends, at your school, at your office

If you are unable to join us, please consider buying a symbolic Amnesty International Book of Stamps, to fund the work required to bring so many people together on this amazing day. Each Book of Stamps represents the cost of mailing an international letter for each of the 12 individuals or communities we're trying to help this year.

Thanks to people like you, Write for Rights has grown from a tiny seed of an idea to become the world's biggest human rights event. 

You can help us achieve an even greater goal: we want the whole world to know that December 10th is International Human Rights Day - a day that everyone takes an action to saves lives and end human rights abuses.


Evolution Made Clear for Kids in "Pepper’s Special Wings"

Evolution Made Clear for Kids in "Pepper’s Special Wings"  
(Local Ontario author and Humanist)
 – In order to give parents a fun and effective tool when teaching young children evolution and the science behind it, author Mary Anne Farah has written Pepper’s Special Wings, a children’s ebook that uses the Peppered Moth species, a recent example of natural selection, as its inspiration. Mary Anne Farah
“Children have the right to know the truth about how life evolves and species change,” says Farah. “The well-documented story of how the Peppered Moth species eventually changed due to pollution darkening the plants where they congregated was perfect for a children’s book. The new survival advantage for moths with darker wings is an easy example to explain to children with no need to use words that may not have yet been learned, such as species, population, predation and camouflage.”
The story of Pepper the moth covers more than just evolution, however. While Pepper’s Special Wings relates to small children about how Charles Darwin’s evolutionary theory of natural selection works, children will also identify with Pepper’s struggles with the recurring childhood themes of self-esteem, self-image, bullying and being teased.
“Children will see that sometimes being different is what makes them amazing!” Farah said.
The book is a hit with the kids who have read it. “I like the story. It shows how the moth that was teased for being different made something big and became not different,” said Rami M., 7, from Pennsylvania. "I love the pictures and colours,” said Jasmine L, 7, from Ontario. “I like how Pepper was lucky and that she had babies.”
Pepper's Special Wings Page 22
The book also contains questions and points of discussion parents can use to talk about the topics in the book with their children.
“Mary Anne did a lovely job of explaining accurately how a species can adapt the way it looks as a result of changes in the environment, as well as informing readers about camouflage, predation and natural selection,” Parent Education Manager Nikki Taylor said of the book. “This was done sensitively and in a way that would not feel threatening for most children. I found this book to be very informative and age-appropriate.”
Pepper’s Special Wings is being launched in conjunction with a new website from the American Humanist Association, KidsWithoutGod.com. The press release with details can be found here.
The ebook is available at humanistpress.com and other major online retailers like Amazon and Barnes & Noble. The ISBN number for Pepper’s Special Wings is 978-0-931779-28-2.
Humanist Press is the publishing house of the American Humanist Association, providing material for the humanist/freethought/atheist market since 1995. The American Humanist Association (www.americanhumanist.org) advocates for the rights and viewpoints of humanists and atheists in the United States. Founded in 1941 and headquartered in Washington, DC, its work is extended through more than 150 local chapters and affiliates across America.

Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life that, without theism, affirms our responsibility to lead ethical lives of value to self and humanity.

Humanists for Social and Environmental Action: Pipeline: COC and Maude Barlow, UofT, Nov. 17 10-5

Humanists for Social and Environmental Action: Pipeline: COC and Maude Barlow, UofT, Nov. 17 10-5
Resistance, education and alternatives

Sat. Nov 17, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Sidney Smith Hall, 100 St. George St., University of Toronto
Lunch provided, building is accessible

Special guests will include Maude Barlow (Council of Canadians), Art Sterritt (BC Coastal First Nations, Executive Director), Wes Elliott (Haudenosaunee land defender) and Vanessa Gray (Aamjiwnaang First Nation) as well as resource people on labour and environmental justice issues.

Uncovering the Heart of Each of the World's Religions: ATHEISM, NOV 14

(39) Is it True? Uncovering the Heart of Each of the World's Religions
UTSSA is sponsoring the info session on Atheism this week.  If you are in Toronto, please go and support them.
5:30pm - 7:30pm Wed Nov 14 University College 15 Kings College Circle Room 52 (Free Pizza)
Atheism (Professor Larry Moran, U of T, Secular Alliance)
A Lecture and Discussion Series.

Oct. 24: Islam (Amjad Tarsin, Muslim Chaplain, U of T) *past*
Oct. 31: Christianity (Kyle Hackmann, Grace Toronto Church)
Nov. 7: Judaism (Yishaya Rose, Chaplain, Chabad House, U of T)
Nov. 14: Atheism (Professor Larry Moran, U of T, Secular Alliance)
From 5:30pm-7pm with a light dinner in Room 52 University College

Sponsors: Muslim Students Association, Secular Alliance, Multi-Faith Centre, Power to Change


America's First Ever Hindu Congresswoman Will Take the Oath of Office Over the Bhagavad Gita

America's First Ever Hindu Congresswoman Will Take the Oath of Office Over the Bhagavad Gita
Last night, Hawaii not only elected Japan-born Mazie Hirono to be the first ever Asian-American woman elected to the Senate, they also elected Democrat Tulsi Gabbard as the first ever practicing Hindu to the US House of Representatives. Hawaii has been declared a Fox News Disaster Zone.
Thirty-one-year-old Gabbard is the daughter of two conservative Hawaii politicians and first ran for office at age 21. After her first term, she voluntarily served on a 12-month tour of duty with Hawaii's National Guard, and then became the first woman in the history of the Accelerated Officer Candidate School at the Alabama Military Academy to be designated a "distinguished honor graduate."
When she's sworn in this January, she'll take her oath of office over a Bhagavad Gita, a sacred text for followers of the Vaishnava branch of Hindu.

The first openly atheist member of congress was Pete Stark
Stark is the first openly atheist member of Congress, as announced by the Secular Coalition for America.[4] Stark acknowledged that he is an atheist in response to an SCA questionnaire sent to public officials in January 2007.
On September 20, 2007, Stark reaffirmed that he is an atheist by making a public announcement in front of the Humanist Chaplaincy at Harvard, the Harvard Law School Heathen Society, and various other atheist, agnostic, secular, humanist, and nonreligious groups.[5] The American Humanist Association named him their 2008 Humanist of the Year,[28] and he now serves on the AHA Advisory Board.