Showing posts with label canada. Show all posts
Showing posts with label canada. Show all posts

Saturday, 1 August 2015

Acceptance of Evolution On The Rise in Western Canada

There's an interesting write up by Mario Canseco over at the Vancouver Observer about the ever-declining belief in creationism in Alberta and British Columbia.
The notion that God created human beings in their present form within the last 10,000 years is endorsed by just 17 per cent of British Columbians. The proportion of creationists climbs to 27 per cent among people who reside in the North and the Southern Interior, but drops to 16 per cent in Metro Vancouver and nine per cent in Vancouver Island (where Lunney’s soon-to-be-extinct riding is located).

Across the province, only one-in-four residents (26%) think creationism —the belief that the universe and life originated from specific acts of divine creation — should be part of the school curriculum in British Columbia. Once again, the numbers jump in the North and the Southern Interior (36 per cent want to see creationism taught in schools), but remain low in Metro Vancouver and Vancouver Island.
All this comes from Insights West's Survey on Evolution and Creationism in British Columbia and Alberta.
Results are based on an online study conducted from May 7 to May 9, 2015, among 814 adult British Columbians, and an online study conducted from May 1 to May 3, 2015, among 801 adult Albertans.
Here's a screenshot from the study results, summarizing the numbers.

It's about what I expected.
Going back to this year’s Insights West poll, age provides an added layer of analysis, and a window into what the research may show a decade from now. Almost two thirds of residents aged 18 to 34 in both British Columbia and Alberta (64%) believe that Adam and Eve should stay away from the classroom. It is also important to note that the proportion of residents who think creationism should “definitely” be taught in schools is particularly low: just 16 per cent in Alberta and 12 per cent in British Columbia. 
This is good news, coming from the province which produced the likes of James Lunney.

(image source)

Thursday, 30 July 2015

Airline Passenger (With Uterus) Refuses Last Minute Seat Switch to Satisfy Orthodox Jewish Man's "Deeply Held Religious Beliefs"

Christine Flynn, 31, uterus-equipped, groggily sat down on a New Jersey to Toronto morning flight. An ultra-Orthodox Jewish man walked up to her row and she greeted him with a smile - I hear humans do that. He then proceeded to repeat the word "change" to the penis-bearing people around her. He ignored her, the uterus human.
"He came down the aisle, he didn't actually look at me … or make eye contact. He turned to the gentleman across the aisle and said, 'Change.'"
He himself didn't ask her to move seats. That would be against his deeply held religious beliefs. Instead, he managed to get a flight attendant - who also presumably has a penis - to ask Christine to scooch her woman bits away from him. And the flight attendant did just that.
"I said, 'This man is refusing to sit next to me because I am a woman.' At that point, another man behind ... offered to switch with me and the airline attendant said, 'Would you be willing to move? and I said, 'Absolutely not. This is ridiculous,'" she said. "I was without words."
I'm fairly certain that if someone were asked to move because they were gay or black, this would be a bigger deal. However, it seems like religious freedom trumps sex and gender. I guess women are at the bottom of the totem pole.

An airline representative stated that last minute seating change requests seldom happen for religious reasons, yet it seems as if the frequency is increasing.
According to an April 9 article in the New York Times, conflicts between ultra-Orthodox Jewish men and female passengers on flights are becoming more common, with several flights from New York to Israel being delayed or disrupted over the past year.
Listen to this amazing interview where Christine kicks ass.

In the above interview, she must deal with an interviewer who seems rather uninterested with the obscene level of entitlement going on. Here a passenger feels like he can force people to switch seats at the last moment just so he will not need to sit next to someone with the same reproductive system configuration as around half the planet's population.
"Leaving it to the last minute and expecting me to move is appalling. He's expecting me to fall in to that archetypical feminine role and acquiesce." 
Yet, in this interview at least, the blame seems to be implied rather squarely on Flynn - who is clearly not the one causing these ridiculous complications. Could you imagine the games a group of ultra-Orthodox Jews could make people play on a plane- all in the name of religious accommodation?

Jerry Coyne fills us in on just that.

Flynn would like an apology from the airline (reasonable). She would also like the airline to make a plan to deal with this in the future (reasonable).
"I'd like an apology," Flynn said. "There really should be a policy around this. If people are going to get on flights and demand that they sit next to someone of the same sex, there should be an area where they can go. I should not have to move because someone has a problem with my uterus."
There are, of course, several ways Porter can accommodate ultra-Orthodox Jews - should they feel motivated. Flynn suggested a box to fill in on the ticket. Here's a few:
  1. Like any special needs request, passengers who have problems sitting next to 50% of the population should make this known during the booking process. Either the airline ensures that such fliers are "paired up" appropriately on the flight - or else an extra seat may need to be purchased. There should be a surcharge on that passenger's ticket for the extra administrative work, so I don't need to pay for this nonsense.
  2. Passenger should check at the gate to ensure they still have their vagina-free-zone. If not, then perhaps the airline can offer another flight on standby.
  3. Groups of passengers who have problems mixing with other humans should consider chartering their own flights.
  4. Perhaps Porter could begin distributing plastic bags like this.

(Image source, source) (story via Canadian Atheist)

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Canadian Atheist Blog Is Down

You probably noticed that Canadian Atheist has been down since yesterday. I've been in contact with Veronica Abbass and she tells me that this is being worked on.

The blog seems to be a frequent target. I hope it comes back soon and wondering if there are some very stable or secure WordPress providers out there who could possibly offer a safe haven?

(Image source)

Thursday, 16 July 2015

176 Med Students Write Letter Rejecting Inquiry Into Anti-Vax Health Course

Last week, I posted about how the University of Toronto conducted an internal review of the quantum-physics-filled and anti-vaccine pseudo-scientific Alternative Health: Practice and Theory course being offered by the wife of the Dean at their Scarborough campus.
Noting that other courses in the program offer extensive scientific information regarding immunization, Vice-President Goel concluded that the sessional instructor’s approach in the class towards the issue of immunization in particular had not been unbalanced; it presented material that, in context, would enable critical analysis and inquiry.
In fact, the course was really popular with students.
The student evaluations from 2014 reveal that students do understand the purpose of the course and appreciated the opportunity to critically think about these alternative modalities. The course is rated very positively by the students who took it 2014. Many students commented that they felt that the topics covered in the course should be introduced into the curriculum in earlier years. There were no complaints from the students in 2014 regarding the content of the course, and I am not aware of any student complaints so far in 2015.  
I wonder if a similar course would have been received as well by these students if it were created and reviewed by actual Med students along with the University of Toronto Medical Society Executive Council rather than the Department of Anthropology? Because it seems like people who actually understand these topics aren't all that satisfied with the Vice-President's lame ass investigation.

Nearly 200 medical students at he university have sent an open letter to President Meric Gertler demanding that - for the sake of human lives and the worth of the paper their future degrees will be printed on -  this course be properly investigated and measures be put in place so ridiculous courses like this do not spring up in the future... regardless of who may be married to whom.
One of our concerns is that the instructor for this course lacked the scientific expertise to teach and develop a health-related course, especially without significant oversight from faculty members with training in the topics addressed in this course, such as vaccination. This instructor, a trained homeopath, had previously been a subject of media attention due to statements made on the topic of childhood vaccination, where she implied that vaccinations could be linked to autism, and stated (on camera) that measles, one of the illnesses children are vaccinated for, was “not a dangerous disease.” These statements are without evidence, and in direct opposition to the vast amount of research that has been done on these topics.

Another major concern of ours is the conclusion expressed by Vice-President Goel regarding the content of the course, specifically that “…the instructor’s approach in the class towards the issue of immunization in particular had not been unbalanced…”. The very notion that anti-vaccination views could be considered a part of a ‘balanced approach’ to teaching about the science of vaccines is completely false. The overwhelming scientific consensus, supported by mountains of robust evidence, concludes that vaccines are safe, effective, and save lives. Suggesting that anti-vaccine views are a part of a balanced approach to the science is to perpetuate a manufactured controversy; it serves to suggest to patients, and the public at large, that a scientific debate is ongoing, when in reality no such controversy actually exists within the institutions of science and medicine. By legitimizing the existence of this ‘false balance’, we do the public a great disservice by misrepresenting the established safety and efficacy of vaccines.
Listen, an Anthropology class is quite within their right to study the social factors involved with anti-vaccine paranoia and culture, but they should not be presenting the writings of Andrew Wakefield as being anywhere near the same level of credibility as real scientific findings.

Since the university has completely bungled up this investigation and is now an international laughing stock. An independent review must be brought in.
We therefore request a thorough, independent investigation into the entirety of the course, as well as the institutional culture that potentially fostered shortcomings to high quality education. This should be done with representatives from the biomedical sciences to address questions of scientific accuracy. This investigation should focus on and specifically detail claims made by the lecturer referring to vaccination, homeopathy, and quantum physics. The results of this investigation should be made directly available to the public, and be sent to all current or former students who took the course.
Furthermore, they are suggesting standards so that this insanity doesn't happen in the future.
In order to better inform the public about health topics, so that they can make well-informed choices, standards to ensure the validity of scientific claims made in all courses in the university – not just those within scientific faculties – should be developed. This is not meant to stifle new and upcoming research or creative thought. Rather, it is meant to support it, such that there is clear understanding of all the evidence currently available, allowing us to progress with reasonable debate and research with the same supporting knowledge.
These students should be commended. It's a shame that students need to be fact checking their schools. This happened at Queens as well. It seems to me like universities must be valuing other things over genuine pursuit of knowledge.

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

In Case You Don't Know What #CPCJesus Hashtag is...

You may still be wondering, as I was yesterday evening, why the tag #CPCJesus (Canadian Conservative Party Jesus) started trending strongly in Canada yesterday.

It's because a Conservative MP Wai Young decided to liken her party to Jesus while promoting bill C-51 (roughly like the Patriot Actat a church.
"Jesus served. He saved, but he acted as well," Young told Harvest City Church saying the Conservative Party had acted "in the same vein" by passing the new anti-terror legislation,Bill C-51.
She also claims that CSIS knew there was a bomb in Air India Flight 182, but couldn't share this information with the RCMP because there was no law like... bill C-51!
"CSIS knew or heard that there was a bomb on board this plane," she said. "But because of the strict laws that government departments have, they cannot share information between departments.… Because they couldn't share that information with the RCMP, the RCMP could not act to take that bomb off that plane. Today, with C-51, they will be able to share that information."
Kind of like Sarah Palin, Young also proudly boasts that she doesn't really read newspapers either - because the press are all malicious wrong people.
"I do not read the newspapers anymore, because most of the facts in there are not factual," Young told the congregation.

"One of the key tenets of being a journalist is that you are supposed to be reporting the facts," she said.
There's nothing worse than journalists who report facts which are not factual. If only we could dispose of facts and only report facty facts, we'd be fine.

The weird cult-like nature of this statement, prompted many excellent posts online. Many of these were written with Biblical references.

Now, there is some question as to whether or not Young was violating Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) rules for church (non-profit) involvement with politics.
The Harvest City Church is registered as a non-profit organization with the Canada Revenue Agency. According to CRA rules, non-profit groups are prohibited from taking part in partisan political activities. A partisan political activity, according to the CRA’s regulations, is one that involves direct or indirect support of, or opposition to, any political party or candidate for public office.

The CRA spells this rule out in one of the prohibited scenarios posted on its website, titled “Inviting competing election candidates to speak at separate events.” The CRA says because a “charity is not giving an equal opportunity for candidates seeking the same office to speak, it is possible to infer that the charity is indirectly supporting a particular candidate for public office and is therefore engaged in a prohibited partisan political activity.”
It's getting more and more interesting all the time.

(Image source: @perfidiousPM)

Monday, 13 July 2015

Newfoundland Public School Will Not Display Bible Verse

The old school building. Photo © Adam Randell at The Northern Pen (source) and used with permission.
Edit 2015-07-28: Reader Shawn the Humanist (@ShawnHumanist) has pointed out that the link to the article has changed. I've updated it below, accordingly. Shawn has also found an actual interview with the man who put the verse onto the wall. Apparently, he is no fan of religion, but figured the verse should be up for historical reasons.
“Religion is as far from me as the east star is from the west,” he said. “It was on the previous school and I thought that it was appropriate to put it back on the new one.”

Saint Anthony is a small town near the northern tip of Newfoundland. Last week, there was some controversy there because the public school board is not so keen on plastering a Bible verse on the new school that's being constructed.
It has been established that the Newfoundland and Labrador English School District has no plans of transferring the bible verse – "All thy children shall be taught of the lord, and great shall be the peace of thy children." – to the new school; a verse that has been placed on town schools since the early 1900s.
Apparently the sign came originally from a school built by Sir Wilfred Grenfell in 1900 and later moved to St. Anthony's Elementary School in the 1970s. Some city councillors expected the verse to be moved to the newly constructed White Hills Academy, but the publicly funded school district wisely chose to not do it.

The Mayor still expressed some surprise that anyone would consider a Bible verse instructing us to teach children about god and donated to what was likely a Christian school by a Christian missionary like Grenfell as religious.
However, Mayor Ern Simms said that isn't the case, and council was told by the school district that any plaque at the new school would have to be non-religious.

"I didn't look at that as being religious, and a lot of people didn't and still don't," he said.

"I look at it as something that Grenfell always worked with — he worked with everyone. He worked with all people as a doctor and apparently he was partly missionary as well, and he worked with everybody in that area."
In a small town like Saint Anthony, I suppose this might not seem too apparent. It's nice that the school board is proactively taking steps to be secular without waiting for a complaint.
 “Since it was first placed, children from every religion in the world have gone to St. Anthony Elementary, and there has never, ever, been a complaint from anybody about it,” said Simms.
The city council will seek input from local residents before making a final decision. Up to now, the school has done good and I hope the city council will honour this decision in the name of state-church separation.

Some have suggested that the sign be donated to the local Grenfell Historical Society, which seems eminently reasonable.

Saturday, 11 July 2015

Video & Reaction to Christopher DiCarlo & Conrad Black: 'The Decline of Christianity'

Conrad Black and Faith Goldy.
In April, I posted about a live taping of The Zoomer. The program appears to be my television nightmare and is hosted by Conrad Black and Faith Goldy.
THE DECLINE OF CHRISTIANITY? Hosts Conrad Black and Faith Goldy explore the fate of Christianity in the wake of diminishing congregations and persecution in the Middle East.
I witnessed the episode and it was, on the whole, dreadful. It was only my sheer determination to get through it alive and report it back to you, dear readers, which prevented me from throttling myself. Black seemed to use it as his own platform for trashing atheism - I guess he wants to expand his print attack into other media.

Thankfully, the program did have a single atheist, Christopher DiCarlo, who valiantly worked to counter an otherwise completely religious panel. Also, the co-host who believed that religion is under attack, and Black who even brought on Dr John Lennox - to talk trash about atheism with - at the end of the show.

You can watch the embedded video below or go to the site. You can skip ahead to 23 minutes, if you prefer.

I emailed DiCarlo after watching the program and asked him his opinion about his treatment on the show, the (little) time allocated to him given the topic, and how he felt about having John Lennox on at the end of the program.
Lord Black is Catholic. I'm not sure what kind of Christian Faith Goldy is. But the entire show, from Moses Znaimer to the audience, are predominantly faith-based.

Even one of the ways the show was pitched i.e. is Christianity in decline because of Muslim persecution, demonstrates a victim perspective.

Conrad is very emotional. I think this is partially due to the fact that the numbers don't lie. Organized religions in the West are in decline. Catholicism's only hope is to pitch their views to developing nations and other parts of the world that are still hanging on due to generational or familial ties -- hence, the reason Pope Francis is from Argentina. I thought is was a bit disrespectful to me for Black to show clips of his interview with Lennox and NOT state that just a few days earlier, I had a lengthy dialogue with Lennox:

I was also surprised that John Lennox did not mention our discussion either. I have gone out of my way to refuse to debate but accept the invitation for dialogue. And I even went so far as to suggest that he and I take opposing sides -- in the interest of fairness -- so we can better understand why we might have such diametrically opposed world views. But no theist has ever accepted my proposal.
DiCarlo also mentioned that he really felt like the token non-believer thrown into the mix. However, he did receive some good feedback from some of the attendees in the audience.

I have similar thoughts. Although, I wonder how much value appearance on these programs actually brings. Whereas, I can understand why David Silverman goes onto Fox News - to bring publicity - I wonder how much this program is actually watched. Then again... I wonder how many people read this blog!

That said, I'll end this post with the dialogue between DiCarlo and Lennox. I haven't watched it yet, but it's likely to be much more worthwhile.

(image source)

Friday, 10 July 2015

Why Did Child Welfare Agencies Pussy-Foot Around With The Lev Tahor Case?

The Ultra-Orthodox Jewish sect, Lev Tahor, fled Quebec back in 2013 because the province was trying to get them to allow their children a balanced education where they learned more than Yiddish and the Talmud. They went to Ontario for awhile, but then eventually fled mostly to Guatemala.

They were about to have their children taken away for not only violating their rights to a useful education but also real physical and mental abuse. We're talking about pee filled beds, forced taking of prescription drugs, forced under age marriages and extreme corporal abuse.

Well, a report was just released, concluding that child welfare agencies did a lousy job of protecting the well-being of the children.

The Montreal Gazette writes:
Camil Picard, the vice-president of youth issues for the Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse, said the delays in this case were “incomprehensible,” considering the fact it took 17 months for youth protection officials to move to seize the children after the problem was first identified.

It also took school board officials 15 months to take action to get proper schooling for the children in the community. The children were receiving a strictly religious education, and spoke neither English nor French. Picard said children have the right to receive a proper education, and if they don’t get that, youth officials must intervene.

“In this situation, it’s clear that the (parties) systematically failed in their role to protect the children, including health services, the education department and youth protection,” Picard said.
You can read about the extreme foot dragging over at CTVLaPresse and Radio Canada. It's awful.

Here's something I find a little nauseating though. It has to do with how certain, mostly English (Rest of Canada) news agencies report about religion, in particular. I'm sorry to report that I've seen it time and time again - a sort of freakish deference to religion exhibited by the anglo media.

The French stories I read all contain a reference by the commission's president, Jacques Frémont alluding to why the agencies may have been really soft on this cult. So soft and cautious, so as not to offend religious sensibilities that the very lives of the children were put into peril.

CTV is the only story I found in English to carry Fremont's comments on religion:
Jacques Frémont, the commission’s president, said Thursday it appears “other considerations,” not the best interests of the children who were the subject of the hearings, played a role in the way the youth protection, school officials, social services and even the police handled the interventions with the community.
What were these other considerations?
Some of the issues the report highlighted include that youth protection and school officials spoke to community leaders instead of the parents, and school officials gave community leaders 15-months to comply to the law requiring children attend school. Lev Tahor children were homeschooled.

“Freedom of religion cannot – in any circumstances – be used as a pretext for abuse and neglect. It is therefore essential that, from now on, all organizations intervening in this type of environment better understand public interests involved and favour, in all cases, the protection of children's rights," he said.
This statement was missing from the Gazette and the CBC report, while always present in some form in the French sources I read. I wasn't the only one to notice this:

This article leaves out a key statement from the report:

« La liberté de religion ne peut en aucun cas constituer un prétexte pour la maltraitance ou la négligence. »

In English: "Freedom of religion can never constitute a pretext to abuse or neglect."

Why this omission?
How very curious, indeed! I wonder why the CBC and Gazette both missed this?

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Sherbrooke Makes Raif Badawi Honourary Citizen

Wife of Raif Badawi, Ensaf Haidar, with Sherbrooke Mayor Bernard Sévigny at Sherbrooke City Hall. (source)
Today, in front of Sherbrooke city hall, mayor Bernard Sévigny declared that Sherbrooke is Raif. Raif Badawi, jailed Saudi blogger and husband of Ensaf Haidar, was declared an honourary citizen of Sherbrooke in absentia only weeks after he was granted fast track Canadian citizenship (immigration selection certificate) by Quebec.

LaPresse Sherbooke Tribune writes:
Les deux banderoles, qui couvrent une partie de la façade de l'hôtel de ville, seront installées en permanence dans l'espoir que M. Badawi soit libéré. La première porte la mention « Sherbrooke est Raif », alors que la seconde indique « Raif Badawi citoyen de Sherbrooke ».

« Les membres du conseil municipal sont profondément touchés par le sort qui est réservé au Saoudien Raif Badawi. Sa condamnation a amené tous les Sherbrookois, tous les Canadiens et les citoyens de plusieurs nations à se lever et à revendiquer le droit à la liberté d'expression, pilier inéluctable de la démocratie », a commencé Bernard Sévigny.
The two banners, which cover part of the facade of city hall, will be installed permanently in hope that Mr Badawi will be liberated. The first declares that "Sherbrooke is Raif", while the second proclaims "Raif Badawi, citizen of Sherbrooke."
"The members of city council are profoundly touched by the Saudi Raif Badawi's predicament. His sentencing has led all residents of Sherbrooke, all Canadians and the citizens of many nations to stand up and defend the right to freedom of expression -- a fundamental pillar of democracy," said Bernard Sévigny.
There will be a vigil tomorrow at 12:30pm. This will be the 27th such weekly protest held before the city hall in Sherbrooke, where Ensaif Haidar has been welcomed with open arms by the community.
Les deux banderoles arborant le visage du blogueur saoudien se sont alors déroulées d'un coup, un symbole émouvant qui a beaucoup ému la conjointe de Raif Badawi, Ensaf Haidar. Les yeux humides et la voix étranglée par l'émotion, elle a remercié tous ceux qui posent un geste pour son conjoint. « Merci pour Raif. Je pense que c'est important pour Raif. Ça lui donne du courage et de l'espoir. Je suis très, très contente. C'est très important et très touchant. »
The two banners portraying the face of the Saudi blogger were unfurled simultaneously, a powerful symbol which greatly moved the wife of Raif Badawi, Ensaf haidar. Eyes wet with tears, and voice quivering with emotion, she thanked all those who made this gesture for her husband. "Thank you on behalf of Raif. I think this is important for Raif. This gives him courage and hope. I am very, very happy. This is very important and very touching."

Ridiculous U of T Anti-Vax Course Not Coming Back Next Semester

Good news! The University of Toronto is quietly dropping the antivaxxer, woo-full, quantum mechanics-filled Alternative Health: Practice and Theory from their next semester offering.
A University of Toronto spokesperson says a controversial course that taught anti-vaccination materials will not be taught this year.
I haven't seen any sign of the university actually acknowledging they were wrong for offering the course. If I would guess, I'd say that this is a PR motivated move.

Still, good to see. Things were getting bloody embarrassing there for awhile. This hasn't stopped my opinion of the university falling several levels, though.

I hope to never see my own alma mater, McGill, stoop to this level.

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

University of Toronto Totally Cool With Homeopath Teaching Anti-Vax Alternative Medicine

Back in March, I wrote about how the University of Toronto in Scarborough has this Health course being offered by their Anthropology (?) department. The course was being taught by a homeopath, Beth Landau-Halpern, who also happens to be the wife of the Dean.

The description of her Alternative Health: Practice and Theory contains statements like this in the syllabus:
Alternative medicine (i.e. the wide range of modalities other than conventional western biomedicine), has gained unprecedented popularity among patients, and a nearly unprecedented backlash from the scientific and conventional medicine communities of late. Dissatisfaction with the results and quality of care patients get from mainstream medicine, how well they are (or aren’t) listened to, the astronomical cost of such medicine, increased suspicion of pharmaceutical safety, a generalized belief that natural is better, and, in some instances, a preference for culturally traditional medicinal practices, are some of the many factors that drive patients to seek alternative health care. At the same time, the “scientification” and “technicalization” of medicine seems to be widely accepted and is employed to assert the perceived fundamental superiority of a biomedical approach to disease; to further the financial incentive of the pharmaceutical industry which has an enormous stake in the scientific, drug-based approach to health; and to disparage “alternative” approaches as quackery and fraud. 
Also this:
We will delve into a quantum physics’ understanding of disease and alternative medicine to provide a scientific hypothesis of how these modalities may work. Quantum physics is a branch of physics that understands the interrelationship between matter and energy. This science offers clear explanations as to why homeopathic remedies with seemingly no chemical trace of the original substance are able to resolve chronic diseases, why acupuncture can offer patients enough pain relief to undergo surgery without anesthesia, why meditation alone can, in some instances, reduce the size of cancerous tumors. 
And this:
The course will also explore a few of the controversies impacting alternative health, with particular attention to the explosive issue around vaccine safety, homeopathic skeptics and their impact on the this well-respected modality, and the questionable emphasis on genetics and DNA to define and predict disease. Students will be encouraged to think critically and creatively in this course, exploring a world of health care that is poorly understood, but presents a compelling and appealing rationale for greater use and acceptance.
With stated course goals like this:
After taking this course, you should be able to:
  • Articulate a nuanced explanation of health, disease, and healing.
  • Understand the difference between Newtonian physics and Quantum physics and their corresponding impacts on biology.
  • Understand how environment and emotion impact biology and health, and articulate the limitations of genetics as destiny.
  • Question the priorities and approaches of mainstream western medicine through the lens of a more holistic approach to health.
  • Understand the connection between body, mind, energy, and spirit and how the interplay between these impact health and disease.
  • Understand the basic principles underlying some of the more established alternative health modalities.
  • Provide a critique of the role of private pharmaceutical companies on the provision of health care options.
  • Make intelligent choices for your own health provision.
  • Intelligently address the concerns of those afraid of alternative medicine or skeptical about its efficacy. 
So, after public outcry from actual real scientists, the University made a little investigation thingy and decided that there was nothing wrong with her approach at all -- it would just be nice if she used more properly sourced materials - e.g. not crap written by Andrew Wakefield and other alarmist conspiracy based nonsense she finds on Google.

Apparently, the review was made back in March, but was just released this week. The University is standing by the anti-vaxxer health studies course. Scientists and other rational people have not taken well to this nonsense.

I cannot understand why they are doing this, but it makes the University of Toronto look very very bad. Just yesterday, they even doubled down on their decision that a course like the above is just fine (with maybe a few improvements, like more academic sources and less bunk.)
Noting that other courses in the program offer extensive scientific information regarding immunization, Vice-President Goel concluded that the sessional instructor’s approach in the class towards the issue of immunization in particular had not been unbalanced; it presented material that, in context, would enable critical analysis and inquiry.

Vice-President Goel nonetheless found that the course could be strengthened by greater engagement of academic colleagues from the Department of Anthropology and experts from the University’s health sciences faculties in developing and approving the course curriculum. The Health Studies Program at UTSC is relatively new, and at the time of the review, did not yet have its own program-specific curriculum committee in place.
Oh yes, it's always important to have balance. I'll be looking forward to Flat Earth material being taught in astronomy courses, baby-delivering storks theory in medicine, and discussion of the Illuminati and chemtrails in political science.

Jen Gunter, who is an actual doctor, writes eloquently about this whole insanity. Go check it out for more information.

Friday, 3 July 2015

Lawrence Krauss & Many More At Non-Conference 2015 In August!

Lawrence Krauss will be one of the speakers. (source)
Last year, I wrote about a brand spanking new conference for the nons - non believers which took place in Toronto. This was The Non Conference 2014.

Well, the conference is back this year!
Are you an atheist or care about ideas, policies and institutions that affect non-believers? Then The Non-Conference is for you!

The Non-Conference is Ontario's largest annual conference that is specifically geared for non-believers, non-theists, the “nones”, atheists, agnostics, humanists, freethinkers, materialists, rationalists, secularists, pantheists, skeptics, empiricists, naturalists, friendly theists...well, you get the idea.

The Non-Conference got its start in Toronto in November last year and now we are back with NonCon2015 in Kitchener, August 22nd, 2015.

Join notable speakers from across Canada and the US for a day of discussion and debate on topics relevant to secularism, human rights, and free-thought in Canada.

I've known about this for awhile now, but have done a magnificent job of totally procrastinating and not posting anything about it. So here's a first post on this conference -- just in time for all of you to buy very reasonably priced tickets and get your non-believing butts down to the Kitchener this year - a not Toronto part of Ontario.

Here are my pathetic excuses for not attending. I am addicted to the Internet and blogging and I saw no reference to WiFi, which makes me twitchy. I am also a car-less, nomadic hippie type here in bohemian Montreal. Although the location looks natural and idyllic, I couldn't see it working by train or bus. Alack alas, Toronto was better suited and I supposed I should have attended last year. I wonder if there are many others in my situation?

All done with the excuses! Now let me tell you about the guest speakers!

Lawrence Krauss - This already should sell it.

Faisal Al Mutar - For someone who's been covering the atheist/skeptic struggles in the Middle East, this is fascinating! Watch his INR5 talk.

Ensaf Haidar - If you follow this blog, you'll know who Ensaf is! She's the strong and courageous human rights activist working to free her husband Raif Badawi from Saudi imprisonment.

Armin Navabi - The founder of Atheist Republic. I recently covered the insane reaction of Twitter Muslims to AR's Rainbow Kaba picture.

Sandy Donaldson - I'm ashamed to say I don't know much about Donaldson. He is starting up the Atheist Community of Toronto, though. If you're an atheist and live in Toronto, you'll want to track him down.

Doug Thomas - Doug is by far the most uber black belt level Humanist for miles and miles around. He blogs over at Canadian Secular Humanist.

Eric Thomas - Eric is not only a great guy, he's also prez of Humanist Canada

Carolyn Hyppolite - Author of the compelling Still Small Voices: The Testimony of a Born-Again Atheist. I've written about her here, here, and here.

Stephanie Guttormson - Member of the Richard Dawkins Foundation. Master student group organizer. Awesome cross-country educator on transgender issues and skepticism.

Christine Shellska - Christine is super awesome and the prez of Atheist Alliance International. She's also a regular on the Legion of Reason.

David Rand - If you're into intelligent conversation about secularism, Quebec/Canada politics and atheism, then you're going to want to speak with David. In addition to being a really fun guy to have dinner with, he's also prez of the Libres penseurs athées -- Atheist Freethinkers right here in Montreal!

There you have it! Go take advantage of the (still very cheap) regular cost tickets until August 7th -- then they will become sought after procrastinator tickets.

Although I won't be able to make the conference, I have secured an agreement with a fellow blogger who will be attending to make short guest posts on this blog about the talks. So stay tuned in August for updates!

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Ontario Court Upholds Law Society's Denial of Accreditation to Trinity Western Law School

Good news concerning the status of the proposed Trinity University Law School so far as its accreditation in Ontario.
An Ontario Superior Court has dealt a blow to Trinity Western University, ruling that Ontario’s law society acted within its rights when it denied accreditation to the proposed law school from the Christian-based, B.C. university in an April, 2014, vote.

The decision by directors of the Law Society of Upper Canada infringed TWU’s freedom of religion, but the court considered that it did so to protect individuals’ rights to equal treatment. Since announcing its plans to open a new law school, TWU has been at the centre of a national debate over its Community Covenant, which asks students to agree to abstain from sexual intimacy outside of heterosexual marriage or face possible suspension or expulsion.
You can read the ruling online here.

They're having similar problems in Nova Scotia and British Columbia. The school promises that this will be appealed. If this doesn't bring them to the Supreme Court, I bet they'll make it there in the next year.

The school itself released a dramatic statement about knives being plunged into freedom of faith communities (to discriminate against minorities based on sexual orientation or just getting it on outside of heterosexual marriage). Seriously, Christians who are really being persecuted around the world should stop, take notice and feel sorry for this organization here in Canada who aren't allowed to set up a Law School which denies access to people who don't comply exactly with their religious edicts. Poor souls.
“The Court’s finding that there has been a breach of religious freedom rights in this case is critically important,” said TWU spokesperson Dr. Guy Saffold. “The Court’s ultimate decision against TWU is starkly at odds with the Supreme Court of Canada’s 2001 decision directing approval of TWU’s teacher education program. It points a knife at the freedom of faith communities across Canada to hold and practice their beliefs.”

A faith community’s commitment to a traditional view of marriage should not become grounds for denial of religious rights and refusal of full participation in society. TWU asks students to adhere to a Community Covenant that calls for refraining from “sexual intimacy that violates the sacredness of marriage between a man and a woman.”  The court maintained that this requirement is discriminatory, and therefore the TWU Law School proposal could not be approved.
Isn't it neat how nobody is saying they cannot have a school or teach their religion?  Sure they can! It's rather their hellbent intent on discriminating against LGBT people is what's keeping them back. They're complaining about how they are being discriminated against because they are not being allowed to use their firmly held religious beliefs to discriminate?

You'd think they'd welcome LGBT people so they could preach to them the good news.

Saturday, 27 June 2015

More Information on CFI Canada's Membership in ORF External Advisory Committee

Last Monday, we learned that the Office of Religious Freedom (ORF) just got a new external advisory committee composed of some 23 religious leaders - none of which were named at the time. Then, a day later, we learned that it's actually a committee of 23 religious leaders and a single agnostic. Furthermore, that agnostic is actually Eric Adriaans, the national director of CFI Canada.

Eric posted a short report on the inaugural meeting of the new committee over at the CFI blog.
Eric Adriaans says of the appointment, “My inclusion on this committee is a significant demonstration of the Office of Religious Freedom’s recognition of the diversity of perspective to be found in Canada on matters of religious freedom.  Canada’s free-thinking, non-believing community should be encouraged to see evidence that the ORF has taken steps to include and welcome a representative from the growing non-believing community.  It is an honour to have been appointed and an honour to represent the perspectives of the significant and growing community of individuals who may variously self-identify with such terms as humanist, secularist, secular humanist, atheist, agnostic, free-thinker or skeptic.
That last highlighted part ties very nicely into a question I had for Eric. Namely, why did Fr. Raymond J. de Souza call him an agnostic in his revelatory article and why does Adriaans' bio on the official committee webpage lack the word atheist, agnostic or non-religious, settling only for secular humanism? I couldn't help but think perhaps he was watering down certain important facets of the organization to make it more palatable to committee members perhaps.

I asked Eric directly concerning this via email and here's the relevant response:

Was there any hesitation to use the word "atheist" in the bio or article to de Souza. Asking because by saying "agnostic" vs secular or humanist or atheist it may be interpreted by some readers as whitewashing.
If your question is whether I'm afraid to be identified as atheist, the answer is no.  I chose "agnostic" for strategic reasons:

1) it is unexpected
2) it forces the kinds of questions you are asking
3) it doesn't sit comfortably and contentedly
4) as these things go, it is a contrarian term

I also don't want anybody thinking they know my (or CFICs) agenda before I have a chance to speak.  I want people to listen - both on the committee and in the broad community.... not just shut down due to an arbitrary and partial label.

I embrace both atheist and agnostic.  In fact, like you've done, I think the two should be paired more frequently.  I wish I had thought of that when I was speaking with DeSouza.

On any given day you could accurately say I'm a pragmatic atheist-agnostic with an assertively anti-authoritarian streak who is trying to accomplish progressive humanist-humanitarian changes; I admit that my skeptical approach is tainted by a slightly cynical attitude but I'm stoic enough not to worry myself over it. 
Adriaans is referring to a previous email where I identified myself as an agnostic atheist, which I believe is truly the honest position. In a very real sense, we're all agnostic... even the other 23 committee members. I'm also a big cynic too!

It's a shame there isn't an umbrella term which could be used -- perhaps an acronym comparable to LGBT. As it stands though, Eric did remind me that this was from a single article, by someone else, completely in passing, in an article about a completely different topic. So I don't think we should make much of this right now.

All this said, the most important thing is what can be achieved for atheists being oppressed by religious groups, governments and majorities across the globe. 
“Working for change in Canada and around the world requires CFI Canada to earn trust and respect across a variety of communities -  within the diverse secularist community and with those who continue in a religious or spiritual community,”  said Adriaans, ” We must take the opportunity to engage on equal footing and with full commitment to processes such as the ORF’s External Advisory Committee if we wish to see positive change on religious freedoms – and freedom from religion.”

The Office of Religious Freedom recently announced the launch of an International Contact Group on Freedom of Religion or Belief with Canada as a Chair.  Meanwhile, CFI Canada was a driving force behind the formation of the International Coalition Against Blasphemy Laws earlier in 2015.  It is clear that Canadians have much to offer to the world when it comes to bringing diverse voices together – and that CFI Canada is unique in Canadian history as an advocate for secularism, free-thinking and non-belief in all of (its) diversity.
I'm all for working with religious leaders to improve the situation of those being oppressed in the name of religion. I'm looking forward to see what can be achieved over the committee's first one year mandate!

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

CFI Canada Represented on New External Advisory Committee on Religious Freedom to Advise the ORF

Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development (source)
Today, I ran across this story in the National Post by Raymond J. de Souza, which mentioned the new External Advisory Committee on Religious Freedom to Advise Office of Religious Freedom I posted about yesterday ... en passant.

Here's the part which matters.
The inaugural meeting of the advisory committee for the Office of Religious Freedom was held on Monday, bringing together some two dozen religious leaders — and one agnostic — from across the country to provide advice to the office on religious liberty around the world.
Yesterday, I tweeted Andrew Bennett, head of the Office of Religious Freedom to ask him if anyone would stand up for secular people being oppressed by religious regimes and majorities across the world. Actually, I just wanted to know who the 23 religious leaders on the committee were. It all seemed to be a bit of a mystery because neither the press release nor the scant media coverage so far actually mentioned its members.

Well, I found the list on the Office's website, which was put up just today. It lists all 23 religious representatives and the mystery agnostic leader, who happens to be none other than CFI Canada's National Executive Director, Eric Adriaans.
Eric Adriaans is national executive director of Centre for Inquiry Canada, a national charity providing education on secular humanism, reason, science and critical thinking. Mr. Adriaans has been a charitable sector professional since 1991, working with Canada’s most respected organizations. At CFI Canada, Mr. Adriaans has led an organization renewal program, with a focus on human rights, education and health sciences. These programs are aimed at supporting new Canadians and helping them access international events and opposing blasphemy laws throughout the world through the founding of the International Coalition Against Blasphemy Laws.

Well, I'm not sure why de Souza called Adriaans an agnostic. Unless I'm mistaken, I think he's an atheist. Is it really so bad to use the A-word?

Anyway, this is actually great news. At least the CFI is on their committee to advise the Office -- something they've been trying to do for a long ... long time.

I've emailed Eric and asked for some comments on how the inaugural meeting went and his hopes and ideas for the future. Hopefully, with the CFI's input, the Office will become better at advocating for those whose freedom from religion -- who are being persecuted because of their lack of religion or questioning of dogma. Because, frankly, their record is not fantastic and they're still not doing a stellar job.

Hope to hear back from him soon and I'll update you all.

Monday, 22 June 2015

Office of Religious Freedom Adds New External Advisory Committee

This morning, Office of Religious Freedom's Andrew Bennett's Twitter account was all aflutter with news about a new Advisory Committee freshly sprung up from the department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada. Since I follow the office on Twitter, my phone was abuzz.
I was at work though, so didn't have much more time to see what Bennett was getting so excited about. It wasn't until Canadian Atheist blogger Veronica Abbass sent me this official press release from the office that it started to sort of make some sense to me.
Canada Establishes External Advisory Committee on Religious Freedom to Advise Office of Religious Freedom
June 22, 2015 - Ottawa, Ontario - Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada

The Honourable Rob Nicholson, P.C., Q.C., M.P. for Niagara Falls, Minister of Foreign Affairs, today announced the establishment of an External Advisory Committee (EAC) on religious freedom.

The Committee comprises 23 prominent leaders from a wide variety of Canadian faith and belief communities representative of Canada’s diversity. It will advise the Office of Religious Freedom on the exercise of its mandate to promote and defend religious freedom internationally as a central element of Canada’s principled foreign policy.
The inaugural meeting of the EAC was hosted today at Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada in Ottawa by Minister Nicholson, and Andrew Bennett, Canada’s Ambassador for Religious Freedom.

The EAC will meet semi-annually. It is chaired by Father Raymond J. de Souza, a Roman Catholic priest of the Archdiocese of Kingston and Chaplain at the Newman Centre, Queen’s University. Corinne Box of the Bahá’í Community of Canada and Malik Talib, President of the Aga Khan Council for Canada, serve as vice chairs of the EAC.

Quick Facts
The Government of Canada officially opened its Office of Religious Freedom within Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada.

The mandate of the Office is to protect, and advocate on behalf of, religious minorities under threat; oppose religious hatred and intolerance; and promote Canadian values of pluralism and tolerance abroad.

“Since the creation of the Office of Religious Freedom, Canada has established itself as a global leader in advocating for and defending persecuted religious communities around the world. In the context of global threats to religious freedom, EAC members will provide valuable insight from the perspectives of their communities and their depth of experience, which will enrich and enhance the monitoring and advocacy work conducted by the Office of Religious Freedom.”
- The Honourable Rob Nicholson, Minister of Foreign Affairs
I searched high and low and couldn't find an actual list of all 23 religious leaders who will be influencing the office. So, I sent a couple of tweets off to Bennett.
Maybe I'll get an answer. It does seem rather mysterious that they didn't bother to name these 23 individuals.

Government Subcommittee Condemns Murder of Bangladeshi Atheist Bloggers

Eric Adriaans from Centre for Inquiry Canada sent me a link to a recent Canadian Government press release condemning human rights violations in Bangladesh. It's a statement from the Subcommittee on International Human Rights of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development -- most of the document seems to be taken up just by the name of the committee. I'm rather mystified about what this committee can actually do other than occasionally make statements which most people -- including Bangladeshi leadership -- are likely to ignore, but why not give it a look?
For a number of years, the Subcommittee on International Human Rights of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development (the Subcommittee) has paid close attention to the plight of religious minorities in different parts of the world. In February and March 2015, the Subcommittee received testimony about the human rights situation in Bangladesh, focusing specifically on the situation of religious minorities in that country. These meetings left the Subcommittee deeply concerned about ongoing violations and abuses of freedom of religion and other internationally protected human rights in Bangladesh.

The Subcommittee notes that the Constitution of Bangladesh recognizes the right of Bangladeshi citizens to profess, practice and propagate any religion and prohibits discrimination on the basis of religion. The Government of Bangladesh is also party to international human rights treaties guaranteeing freedom of religion or belief. Nevertheless, the Subcommittee has observed that the country’s religious minorities are unable to fully enjoy their human rights.

The Subcommittee was dismayed to receive reports that religious minority groups in Bangladesh continue to face discrimination, harassment and violence at the hands of both state and non-state actors. Some minority religious communities have been victims of mob violence, such as the attacks against Hindu and Buddhist temples, shops and homes near Chittagong in 2012 and 2013. Witnesses testifying before the Subcommittee also spoke of violent attacks and land grabs perpetrated against indigenous communities in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, implicating both the Bangladeshi army and ethnic Bengali settlers in these acts.

The Subcommittee is also alarmed at the murder of three atheist bloggers known for speaking out against religious extremism in Bangladesh. The Subcommittee notes that Canada’s Ambassador for Religious Freedom, Dr. Andrew Bennett, has condemned these murders. Moreover, the Subcommittee is troubled by reports that women and girls have been abducted, raped and subject to forced marriages, as well as indications that adherents of minority religions are at risk of forced conversion to Islam, and that the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has training camps in Bangladesh.
The Subcommittee strongly believes that all Bangladeshis have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. Members of religious minority communities, like all others in Bangladesh, also have the right to freedom of expression and the right to live free from discrimination. The Subcommittee also notes that a lack of respect for these rights negatively impacts the enjoyment of many other internationally protected human rights.

Therefore, the Subcommittee:

Condemns all discrimination, harassment and attacks against minority communities in Bangladesh, including indigenous groups and religious minorities.

Further condemns the brutal murder of atheist bloggers Avijit Roy, Ananta Bijoy Das and Oyashiqur Rahman and extends its condolences to their family members.
Calls upon the Government of Bangladesh to uphold the rights of all individuals to espouse their beliefs in peace and security, free from violent attack.

Insists that the Government of Bangladesh must effectively protect the places of worship, icons and religious property of minority religious communities, as well as the freedom of persons of all faiths to manifest their religion in public or private, individually or with other members of their community and without discrimination.

Urges the Bangladeshi authorities to conduct independent and effective investigations of violent incidents that undermine freedom of thought, conscience and religion, as well as freedom of expression in Bangladesh, and to bring those responsible to justice.
Condemns all forced religious conversions in Bangladesh.

Further condemns all forms of child, early and forced marriage in Bangladesh.

Supports the Government of Canada’s efforts to end child, early and forced early and childhood marriage in Bangladesh.

Encourages Canada’s Ambassador for Religious Freedom to continue to monitor respect for religious freedom in Bangladesh.
This is all pretty good! I just have a couple of nits to pick.

Firstly, it wouldn't be such a stretch -- and I do see it as one -- for these sorts of statements to include atheists suffering at the hands of religious groups or governments, if the committee were concerned with human rights rather than the rather narrow scope of religious freedom.

Secondly, take another look at this portion about the killed atheist bloggers:
The Subcommittee is also alarmed at the murder of three atheist bloggers known for speaking out against religious extremism in Bangladesh. The Subcommittee notes that Canada’s Ambassador for Religious Freedom, Dr. Andrew Bennett, has condemned these murders. Moreover, the Subcommittee is troubled by reports that women and girls have been abducted, raped and subject to forced marriages, as well as indications that adherents of minority religions are at risk of forced conversion to Islam, and that the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has training camps in Bangladesh.
I wonder if they were only speaking out against only religious extremism in their blog or if they were simply questioning religion in general and discussing topics which upset religious people and compel lunatics (extremists) to violent action?

A recent story in the Glob and Mail, talks about the Mukto Mona's editor, who is in Toronto and concerned for his life and the life of bloggers in his home country of Bangladesh. This is the blog for which several of the murdered bloggers wrote.
Speaking at his Toronto home, Mr. Ahmed is pensive. He is getting messages from Mukto Mona writers in hiding. “Somebody will get killed within a short time,” he said with certainty.

The death threats extend to those beyond Mukto Mona, including intellectuals, academics and secular bloggers for other sites. Mr. Ahmed shared a message on his phone that someone sent to a contact inside Bangladesh: “We have already prepared your visa to hell,” it read.
The stated purpose of the blog:
The goal of Mukto Mona is not about “bashing” any one particular religion like Islam, but critiquing all religions, explained Mr. Ahmed.

“We don’t want people to become atheists all of a sudden. But we want people to think [in a] rational way,” he said. Another major theme is promoting scientific thought.
For Mr. Ahmed and his wife Afroja, any return to Bangladesh is virtually impossible. His own writings for Mukto Mona have focused on “safe” subjects like literature and history – and largely steered clear of science and religion, which are not his areas of expertise, he explained.

“But right now, everyone knows I’m running Mukto Mona,” said Mr. Ahmed. “That’s enough to kill me.”
For sure there must have been criticism of religious extremism, but it seems like even discussing controversial topics openly -- eg. freethought -- is enough to get one killed.

I just got the feeling reading this statement that they added the extremism as a means to somehow mask or distance the reader from the reality that merely being an atheist and questioning religion in Bangladesh will get you dead.

I don't know for sure. That's just how the language strikes me. Still, a release like this is better than no release.

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Raif Badawi Book: New Quebec Edition & English Edition Foreward By Lawrence Krauss

Jailed Saudi blogger Raif Badawi. (source)
Editions ēdito in Quebec have put together and published some of jailed Saudi blogger Raif Badawi's most compelling online texts and the new edition is now available for purchase in bookshops across the province. It's titled 1000 coups de fouet: parce que j’ai osé parler librement ( 1000 Lashes: Because I Dared to Speak Freely ).
1000 coups de fouet, a collection of 14 texts by Badawi that landed him in jail in Saudi Arabia, was launched by Quebec publishing house Éditions Édito with Amnesty International on Tuesday. This follows releases in Germany and France and an English translation is in the works, according to the NGO.
The initial launch was Tuesday and was even attended by opposition Federal MP Hélène Laverdière, who is Deputy Critic For Foreign Affairs.
“It’s very sad to see that the Canadian government is not doing more,” said Hélène Laverdière NDP MP for Laurier–Sainte-Marie.
She went on to point out that Canada really ought to be doing more considering we're providing refuge for Badawi's wife and family. Hopefully, Harper won't respond by kicking them out.

If you can understand French, you can watch a video report on the launch over at Radio Canada.

Another Montreal book launch was yesterday and was even attended by some government officials.

The English edition, 1000 Lashes: Because I Say What I Think,  is apparently on its way July 24th with a foreward by Lawrence Krauss!

The Gazette article about the Quebec edition I quoted above includes a few English translations to give you an idea of the sort of thing Badawi wrote that landed him into jail.
In reality, this august preacher drew our attention to a truth that had evaded us until then, from me and my honourable readers, that there exists “religious astronomers!” What a lovely and unusual name, since in my humble experience and from my research, which is not negligible on the subject of the universe, its origins and the planets, I never encountered these terms. I advise the American space agency NASA to abandon their telescopes and give them to our “religious astronomers,” whose perception and insight surpasses the defective telescopes of NASA.
You can find a list of release dates for the book over at -- Amazon links for countries and languages are there as well -- French and German are so far available.

I'll just add that it sort of pains me a little that I see so much action here in Quebec on this, but not too much outside. Perhaps it's because Ensaf Haidar is here? Well, at least they are being made to feel welcome.

You can find information on the Quebec Edito edition at there website.

Quebec edition. (source)

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