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Peter Tatchell’s beatings have ruined his health

Peter TatchellPeter Tatchell, the human rights campaigner who came to talk to us at a Colchester meeting in March 2007, has been forced to cut down on his activities by the consequences of the beatings he’s had, the Observer reports today. He was going to stand as the Green Party’s candidate in Oxford East, but has had to quit because “horrific beatings have left him experiencing permanent symptoms of severe concussion.” Peter’s lifestyle and workload are punishing, but as he’s driven to continue campaigning, he’s unlikely to give them up.

The photo was taken at our meeting, when he spoke about democracy after a meal with a group of us at a local noodle restaurant. From the look of him, he could do with a lot more noodles.

Visit Peter’s website here.

The church is complaining again, but fewer people care

The church has been complaining again, this time about the BBC’s religious programming. There’s not enough of it, they say, or it’s not the right sort. The Bishop of Manchester, the Rt Rev Nigel McCulloch, says,

There is also a danger of the ‘David Attenborough’ effect: religion always reported from the point of view of an observer of a fascinating and increasingly rare species, rather than explored as something of fundamental importance to the vast majority of the country.

What climate change will mean to Suffolk

1953 floodAs world leaders meet in Copenhagen to try to make a deal to prevent further global warming, why should East Anglians be concerned? Because what happened in 1953 could happen again.

In 1953 I lived on the North West coast of England, and I didn’t hear about the floods in East Anglia. I didn’t hear of them for several years after I moved here, until I became a funeral celebrant. Then I heard stories from people who were affected by the North Sea surge. 307 people were drowned, some as they slept. Hundreds of animals were lost.

In 1953, communications weren’t as good as today. The first story I heard about the flood was about a man whose parents had a small general store on the Tendring peninsula coast. He heard that there was a danger of flooding and phoned them to tell them to move onto higher ground. Thinking that they had plenty of time, they started moving their stock onto the highest shelves, and were caught by the rising water before they could escape. When their son arrived, a day or so later, he found them both lying face down in the water, drowned. He never recovered from the shock, his wife said, and was terrified of water for the rest of his life. At his funeral, some of his colleagues said they’d never understood, until then, why he wouldn’t go swimming.

A discussion about alternative medicine

30th January – a day discussing alternative medicine. The speakers are –

SIMON SINGH, author of Trick or Treatment, currently being sued by British Chiropractic Association

ANDY LEWIS, runs Quackometer on the web

PROFESSOR JOHN GARROW, founder member of the charity “HealthWatch” which promotes proper testing of the health claims of all therapies, alternative or orthodox.

Ipswich Mayor to visit us at our AGM

We’ll be in the usual place for our AGM in April, with an unusual guest. The Mayor of Ipswich, Cllr David Goldsmith, has been visiting the various faith groups in the town at their “places of worship”, and it’s our turn. No worshipping for his worship (sorry, couldn’t resist), but we will be able to give him a warm welcome, explain who we are and what we do, and talk about humanist and secularist interests.

February meeting – Recommended Reading

Postponed from January meeting, due to bad weather –

Come prepared to tell us about one or two books that you’d recommend, whether because they’ve inspired you, amused you, informed you, or all of these things. Don’t worry about the usual Humanist stuff, like Dawkins’ ‘The God Delusion’ – what about something you just couldn’t put down, or you’ve read several times, or that makes you laugh?

We’ll be in the usual place at the usual time.