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Thanks to everyone who volunteered to help out with this situation. I just received word that this student has a new sponsor and will be moving soon. However, he's been informed about the bat cruise and all of our weekly events - so we might still have him around as a guest at some of our events.

I just received the following via e-mail:

---- I'm emailing you because there is an exchange student in the Austin area that is needing a new host family ASAP. This student is living with a devout Christian family and there is much tension because the student has expressed to his host family that he believes in no God. I'm hoping that someone in your group would be willing to offer this student, from Moldova, a home for the remainder of the school year. 

-----

I've spoken to the director and they'll be sending me additional information about what is required/expected of host families and a bit more about the young man in need of rescue.

Please e-mail me at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) if you think you might be interested in hosting, and I'll pass along all of the information.

Let's see if we can't save this kid a lot of misery and avoid sending him home with the wrong impression of the U.S.

----

UPDATE: The situation was resolved shortly after this announcement went out and the student no longer requires placement in a new home. Thanks to everyone who offered to help!

The ACA's Sunday morning meeting for November 12th will be at the community center Ventana del Soul at the slightly earlier time of 11am. The location is 1834 East Oltorf St., just Southeast of downtown off I-35. See their map for directions. Ventana del Soul is a special place we think you'll like. It may become a regular meeting place for ACA. Please come to our first meeting there and let us know what you think. 

Ventana del Soul charges a fee for the use of their space. We get a discount because we're a non-profit, and all of our food purchases will be deducted from our bill. In other words, if we have a good turn-out, and if people have a few bagels and muffins, we get the space for free. Just tell the cashier you are with ACA to ensure we get credit for your purchase. The cafe is downstairs, but the meeting will be upstairs in the big room on the right. 

To help kick things off, we have a guest speaker for this meeting. Oak DeBerg is a speaker for MAAF, the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers, http://www.maaf.info/. Oak will speak to us about atheists in the military. 

Oak DeBerg joined the US Air Force in 1965 after completing Reserve Officer Training Corps. Upon commissioning, he served as an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile launch control officer for five years. Following this assignment, Oak worked in the areas of research and development and weapons acquisition. He was involved in the early development of unmanned aerial vehicles during the Viet Nam conflict. Later, he became responsible for integrating conventional weapons on the then new B-1B bomber. In the late 1970s, after joining the Air Staff at the Pentagon, he became an assistant executive secretary to the US Air Force scientific Advisory Board. In the early 80s, he was the scientific and technical adviser for, as well as a delegate to, the Strategic Arms Reduction Talks (START) and the Intermediate Nuclear Forces reduction treaty negotiations with the Soviet Union. He later went on to become the Assistant Chief-of-Staff for the Air Force Systems Command. He retired in 1995 with the rank of Colonel. 

Colonel (Ret.) DeBerg holds a B.S. in Chemistry (University of California at Berkeley), a M.S. in aerospace engineering (Air Force Institute of Technology) and a B.A. in philosophy (The University of Texas at San Antonio). Colonel DeBerg has spoken at Vassar College on "The Need for a Universal Draft" as well as "Military Policy and Treatment of Gays." He also has given numerous talks to local civic groups on Charles Darwin, evolution and so-called intelligent design. On four occasions, he has given testimony to the Texas State Board of Education on the scientific and political issues involved in high school textbook selection. 

After our guest speaker's talk, we will have a board meeting. Please consider lingering and participating. The room is big, so those who want to chat should not be a distraction to anyone who wants to listen to the board meeting. 

Our reservation for the space ends at 1:00 pm. It will be possible to linger in the cafe or outside after the meeting. 

Thanks to David Kennedy for finding the space and Don Rhoades and Joe Rhodes for helping to check it out.

The ACA will be chartering a cruise boat on Town Lake on Saturday, September 23rd, 2006, 6-8pm. We'll have the boat to ourselves to chat, picnic, and watch the bats emerge from the Congress Avenue bridge. The event is organized by Joe Zamecki and Marla Repka. 

The boat we'll be taking is the Capital Cruise's Silent Star. It's 60 feet long and covered. It has a bathroom and tables for our use. We can bring food and drinks, but not in any glass containers. Plan on bringing some food and drink. The event should be a relaxing cruise on the lake.

In order to get the boat, we're going to need to collect money in advance for the event. The price is $17.85 per person. Please pay with exact change (preferably in an envelope) or with a check made out to "ACA". Mark the check or envelope with the name(s) of the participant(s). Give your payment to an ACA board member at any meeting or ACA event. If the event is canceled, we'll return your money. 

On the day of the event, meet at 5:30pm at Capital Cruises' dock, on the river, behind the Hyatt Regency Hotel, on the South side of the river. That's between the Congress Ave. bridge and the 1st St. bridge, on the South shore. The number for Capital Cruises is (512)480-9264 if you need last minute help, or see thier web site

We recommend parking at the Austin American-Statesman parking lot, just East of Congress Ave. on the South side of the river. Parking there is free for bat watchers. Alternatively, you can find a metered parking spot on Congress Ave. either South or North of the bridge. Coins shouldn't be necessary at that time of day, but it's a further walk. 

For more information about the bats, see Bat Conservation International and their web page about the Congress Avenue bat colony.

Atheist Community of Austin

The Atheist Community of Austin is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to promoting positive atheism and the separation of church and state. The ACA serves the local Austin community through outreach programs, providing informational resources and various volunteer activities. In addition, the ACA serves the community-at-large through free online portals including informational wikis, regular audio/video podcasts and interactive blogs.

We define atheism as the lack of belief in gods. This definition also encompasses what most people call agnosticism.

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