Wednesday, December 12, 2018

The PCOF on Macron's concessions to the Yellow Vests

Below is a translation of a statement from the Communist Party of the Workers of France (Parti Communiste des Ouvriers de France, PCOF) on President Macron's concessions to the gilets jaunes (yellow vests) movement ( www.pcof.net/communique-le-gouvernement-a-du-reculer-amplifions-le-mouvement-de-contestation-sociale/ ).  The working class wasn't able to stop Macron's pro-capitalist policies at the beginning, but now the French government is being pushed back.  Similar protests, though some are led by rightists, are starting in other EU states, Tunisia, and Iraq, and the USA could use a "yellow vest movement" to demand progressive economic and political reforms (preferably with more organization than the French movement), though recent movements such as Occupy and the Moral Monday movement here in North Carolina seem similar.
  
Communiqué
 
The government had to back down: spread the social protest movement
Macron and his government have been forced to make concessions, even though they are limited, faced with the strong social protests that have taken place for weeks through the movement of the “yellow vests.”
The arrogant president, of the bosses and the rich, sent his minister to try to defuse the great social anger that is seen particularly in the neglected regions of the country. Since Tuesday, government taboos such as the ISF [Solidarity Tax on Wealth] issue, a symbol of politics for the rich, have been "put back on the table" by Macro’s spokespersons, provided they do not question the main neoliberal orientations that remain the course.
The distancing from the contemptuous management style of the president and his government and the incantatory calls for the involvement of the "intermediate bodies" are multiplying. This is a sign of the weakening of the government and its electoral base.
The movement of the “yellow vests” is part of a longer period of union mobilizations: those against the El Khomri law [a law making it easier for companies to lay off workers and take other anti-worker measures, named after the former minister of labor – translator’s note], against the "work” law, the abolition of the APL [housing aid], against the closure of hospitals, etc. then that of the railway workers. Today, the mobilizations and strikes in the companies are developing around an increase in wages, starting with the increase of SMIC [monthly minimum wage] to 1800 €.
The added consequences of the reform of the baccalaureate, the removal of posts in the high schools, of the path to higher education, the reform of the vocational high schools, which are being implemented, have led to the mobilization of hundreds of high schools. The answer is the baton, but in the current climate, the result can be more mobilizations, more support from other sectors in struggle.
The government has been weakened, a breach has opened.
The concessions are a six-month suspension of the measures that have lit the powder keg: the suspension of the fuel tax increases, the freezing of electricity rates until May 2019. This is too little and too late. Since the beginning of the movement of the yellow vests, the demands for social justice, for concrete measures to increase the low wages, the pensions, the allowances for the unemployed, etc,. the demands for more taxes on the big companies, for greater democracy, etc.,  have come together. To the list of demands of the yellow vests, there have been added those of the workers’ and trade union movement, the collectives for the defense of the interests of the popular strata (in social housing, education for the children and young people of the popular strata, in defense of hospitals and the system of health care that is accessible to all, etc.), of public services.
These different movements do not oppose but complement each other.
The government is proposing discussions to gain time and try to break out of its isolation. Do not give it a break!
The movement of the yellow vests calls for further mobilizations.
The trade union movement, at the call of the CGT in particular, has called for strikes and demonstrations on December 14.
The initiative is in the hands of the workers, the popular strata and their organizations of struggle.
The demands forging unity between the different movements are more than ever on the agenda:
- Increase of the SMIC to 1800 €, of the pensions and minimum income;
- Taking care of transportation by the employers (1);
- VAT [Value Added (sales) Tax] of 5.5% for basic necessities;
-Restoration of the tax on wealth.
 
Paris December 5, 2018

Communist Party of the Workers of France

(1) The chief boss made an important statement: "80% of our employees use their car to go to work, of whom 50% have no other choice and they drive an average of 44 km [about 28 miles]." The conclusion that he did not draw from this, but we do, is: taking care of transportation by the employers!

Saturday, December 08, 2018

Fall issue of Revolutionary Democracy published

The September issue of Revolutionary Democracy ( www.revolutionarydemocracy.org ), an independent Marxist-Leninist communist journal published in India in English, has been released.  It covers struggles in India and the rest of South Asia as well as issues in other countries, theoretical questions, republishes translated documents relating to the history of the USSR, usually includes some art or poetry related to revolutionary struggles, etc.  There are usually two issues a year.  In the USA, send a $5 dollar check, money order, or cash to George Gruenthal at the address below (contact him for the shipping cost for other countries).  PayPal is also an option. 

192 Claremont Ave., #5D
New York, NY 10027
 
Table of Contents:
 
‘Culpable Genocide Not Amounting To Murder’ – The Tuticorin Massacre, C.N. Subramaniam    
 
Absence of Political Will to Save the Indian Economy, A Case Study of Indian Financial Management, N. Bhattacharya  
 
Seducing People with Promises, Political Economy of Budget 2018-19, K.B. Saxena
         
Agrarian Crisis and Women Workers in Rural India, Jaya Mehta 
           
What to do with the Four Million Stateless in Assam? Santosh Rana
 
Manipur Against Corporate Plunder, An Interview with Jiten Yumnam, Malem Ningthouja 
             
SAIL: There is a Little Death in Every Steel, NTUI
 
 
 
 
 
Immediately Stop the Unlawful Arrest of Trade Unionists and Human Rights Defenders, NTUI
 
Statement of Romila Thapar and others. (28th Sept. 2018)
 
Repeal The Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967. (October 22, 2018), AICCTU, AITUC, NTUI
 
 
 
Brazil: The Majority of the Electors Did Not Vote for the Fascist Millionaire, Luiz Falcão
 
 
About the Elections in Brazil: Did Fascism Fall on Us? Guido Proano Andrade
 
Tracking Bhagat Singh and Jawaharlal Nehru, Amar Kant
 
 
 
 
Correspondence: Mahendra Neh, Member, Politburo of the Marxist Communist Party of India     (United)  
  
A Communist Approach to the Question of the Right of Nations to Self-Determination in the Era of Imperialism, The Party of Labour of Iran (Toufan)
 
EMEP Chairwoman Selma Gurkan Will Be On Trial for Criticising the AKP’s War Policies   
            
 
Are the Popular Fronts Necessary?, Raul Marcos
 
Letter on the Renaming of Tsaritsyn (January 25, 1925), J.V. Stalin
 
Results of the Youth Conference of South-East Asian Countries, (March 22, 1948), N. Mikhailov
 
The Letter of New Central Committee – A Review, (23rd July 1950), Jyoti Basu
 
On the Question of Lavrentiy Beria – I, (2nd July, 1953), V.M. Molotov.
 
Serious Mistakes and Shortcomings in the Activities of the CPGB, (January 21, 1954), M. Mitin
 
 

Wednesday, December 05, 2018

ICMLPO 24th Plenary Meeting Statement

This is a statement drafted by 24th Plenary Meeting of the ICMLPO ( cipoml.net/ ), held last month in Mexico. 

To the Workers and Peoples

To the Revolutionaries and Communists

In Mexico we commemorate the end of World War I, which caused great, serious damage to humanity and which was also the scene in which the first proletarian revolution triumphed, the Great October Revolution. We celebrate the bicentenary of the birth of Karl Marx, the great teacher of the proletariat. The 24th Plenary of the International Conference of Marxist-Leninist Parties and Organizations has successfully completed its work. The international situation was evaluated and the responsibilities and tasks of the workers, peoples and revolutionary movements were specified. We discussed important problems of the work of the parties and organizations of the ICMLPO, pointing out the commitments and tasks, affirming the perspectives of development.

The exacerbation of the intrinsic contradictions of the imperialist capitalist system are sharpening the general crisis of capitalism, which is a crisis of the economic, political and social structures and superstructures that are shaking the capitalist system, affecting millions of workers, the dependent countries, the oppressed peoples and nations, which are deepening the ravages of nature and the environment.

The anarchy in production, the competition among the monopolies and the imperialist powers, the excessive growth of the external debt, the unequal trade, the inter-imperialist trade war, the plundering of the natural resources and the appropriation by the class of capitalists of the surplus value generated by millions of workers, the unilateral measures of the U.S. regarding financial and monetary policies, the accelerated development of science and technology, computerization, the internet, robotics and artificial intelligence forecast the appearance of a new economic crisis, which will be of greater proportions and depth than the economic crisis of 2008, which will have a serious impact on social and political relations.

The ravages of nature and the deterioration of the environment, the climate changes provoked by the irrational exploitation and plundering of the natural resources by the capitalist monopolies and the imperialist countries are constantly intensifying.

Great confrontations are taking place among the imperialist powers, the appearance and spread of war preparations across all continents and regions, the development of the arms race involving all countries, the militarization of the economy and society leading towards a new redivision of the world. The military confrontation among the imperialist countries, mainly between the U.S. and Russia, between NATO and China are expressed in armed conflicts that are bleeding dry the peoples of the Middle East and Africa and are fueling conflicts in other parts of the world. The economic and political aggression of the U.S. towards Iran are undermining the sovereignty of that country and the interests and rights of its peoples. In Yemen, the economic and political interests of Saudi Arabia, with the support of the U.S., are responsible for the destruction of that country and the genocide that is devastating the people and the country.

The inter-imperialist struggles are also expressed in the trade war between China and the United States, in the contention over markets and strategic areas; in the aggressive incursion of Chinese investments on all continents.

The imperialist powers are intensifying their interference in all the dependent countries, they are promoting extractivism; they are plundering the natural resources while riveting the chains of oppression. The nature of imperialism is expressed in aggression and depredation in order to appropriate the wealth of the dependent countries and the profits produced by the super-exploitation of imperialism. No imperialist country is a friend of the peoples.

Tens of thousands of people, men, women and children, are fleeing their countries devastated by war, by the repression of their governments, by misery and poverty. They are seeking opportunities and emigrating in Asia, Europe, Africa and Latin America, they are attacked by the xenophobic, nationalist and racist policies of imperialism and reaction. Trump is demonstrating to the migrants his reactionary, xenophobic and aggressive character.

The people of Palestine are heroically resisting the brutal aggression of Yankee imperialism and Israeli Zionism, which are murdering thousands of civilians; that struggle is a sign of the determination to defend their sovereignty and life. They are receiving the solidarity and support of the progressive forces of the world. We Marxist-Leninists strongly support the Palestinian cause.

The government of Trump in the U.S. and the election of Bolsonaro in Brazil are witness to the failure of social reformism, of bourgeois democracy and the policies of social democracy that are being set aside by imperialism and the bourgeoisie. In order to affirm and strengthen their domination, they are increasingly resorting to reactionary, xenophobic and nationalist policies, to the establishment of ultra-right, authoritarian, fascistic and fascist regimes in some countries.

The development of the reactionary and fascist tendencies and the eventual establishment of fascist regimes are being confronted by the working class, the youth, the peoples and substantial democratic sectors that defend freedom, democracy, human and trade union rights.

The capitalist system and bourgeois institutions are mired in corruption and the appropriation of public money that is becoming a source of accumulation; the denunciation and actions against corruption and some of those responsible are leading to the unmasking of the backward nature and rottenness of capitalism. In the fight against corruption, large popular mobilizations, political crises and changes in the bourgeois governments have developed in some countries and in some cases.

The policies and actions of the monopolies and the bourgeoisie against the working class, the peoples and the youth, the oppressed peoples and nations are seen throughout the world. But they do not develop calmly; there is a popular response.

In several countries and on all continents, militant strikes and mobilizations of the workers are developing for stability in opposition to labor flexibility, the high cost of living, the high prices for housing and new taxes; there are important demonstrations of the youth, significant expressions of the struggle of the people for the maintenance of civil liberties and the defense of human rights. The women are courageously demonstrating against oppression and discrimination; on March 8 they carried out an international strike that took place in a good number of countries.

These manifestations of the workers' and people's movement are having a sustained development but they are not expressed in a general way; they are still scattered and isolated at the international level. However, they are an expression that the forces of social revolution, the workers' movement, the poor peasantry, the youth, women, oppressed peoples and nations have potential and affirm the perspective of the development of the revolutionary movement of the workers and peoples.

The opposition to imperialist war, to wars of aggression, to the arms race must be taken up by the workers and the youth, joined in the defense of peace, of the political and union rights of the workers and the peoples. It must be the cause that involves broad democratic sectors, an international banner that we Marxist-Leninist communists uphold in our fulfillment of proletarian internationalism.

The defense of democratic liberties, the rights of the peoples and human rights; the expressions of substantial democratic and progressive sectors, the opposition to the reactionary and fascistic positions, the direct combat against fascism are part of the present demands of the workers and youth; they are an expression of the struggle against capitalism and imperialism, for the revolution and socialism. We Marxist-Leninists are consistent fighters against fascism and imperialism; we are involved in the building of the democratic and anti-fascist front at a national and international level.

The fight against imperialist domination is the historical task of the oppressed peoples and nations, of the anti-imperialists. It is the irrevocable responsibility of the communists in all countries. We take it up in a determined manner.

The right of self-determination of the peoples is a current issue; it is seen on several continents and within different States, in the anti-colonialist struggle and in opposition to neocolonial policies. We reaffirm our support and solidarity.

We proletarian revolutionaries organized in the International Conference of Marxist-Leninist Parties and Organizations, ICMLPO, express our determination to strengthen our parties and work for the unity of the communists.

Capitalism and imperialism are not invincible. The unity and struggle of the workers and peoples, the consistent attitude of the communists and other revolutionaries will break the chains of imperialism, aiming at its weak links.

Against the War Policy of Imperialism and Reaction!

For the Defense of Freedom and Public Liberties, Against Reaction and Fascism!

Stop the Imperialist Aggression Against the Oppressed Peoples and Nations!

Unity and Struggle of the Workers and Peoples, of the Democrats and Progressives of the World!

Long Live the Revolution and Socialism!

Mexico, November 2018

24th Plenary of the ICMLPO

Friday, November 30, 2018

Some events and anniversaries in December

This calendar lists mostly local events of general left interest and cultural events, along with historical anniversaries.  More items will be added later in December. 

December is Human Rights Month.

Black Alliance for Peace is petitioning for US Africa Command (AFRICOM) to be abolished: www.change.org/p/house-armed-services-committee-put-an-end-to-the-u-s-africa-command-africom   (in 6 languages).

Annual Haw River Assembly Holiday Sale

Support this conservation group by buying a t-shirt, books, etc. during this sale December 3 - 21st (weekdays 10am - 4pm, and Saturday, December 8th and 10th 10am - 2pm, but call 919 542 5790 beforehand to make sure someone will be there) at the HRA's office (143 Bynum Church Road). 

Solar Panel Leasing in North Carolina

Last year House Bill 589 Competitive Energy Solutions for North Carolina was passed, allowing the leasing of solar panels and making some Duke Energy customers (residential, commercial, and non-profit) eligible for NC Solar Rebates through 2022.  October 15th Eagle Solar and Light became the first company licensed by the NC Utilities Commission to do solar leasing in the State.   

Cool Congregations Challenge

December 15th is the deadline for religious groups to join Interfaith Power and Light's annual Cool Congregations Challenge, a chance for religious groups doing work on climate change or sustainability to get recognition and a $1000 dollar prize ( www.coolcongregations.org/ ). 

Library booksales

The last Friends of the Durham Library book sale of the year will be December 1 - 2 (10am - 12pm is members only on the 1st, and 12 - 4pm is open to all; the 2nd is a bag sale, from 1 - 4pm) at the usual Northgate Mall location ( durhamcountylibrary.org/friends/ ). 

The sales in 2019 will be February 2 - 3, April 6 - 7, June 1 - 2, August 3 - 4, October 5 - 6, and December 7 - 8, and the hours for all of these sales will be 10am - 12pm members only and 12 - 4pm open to all on Saturdays and 1 - 4pm $10 paper grocery bag sales open to all on Sundays. 

The Friends of the Chapel Hill Public Library will have a sale December 7 - 9th.  December 7th is 3 - 5:30pm and for members only (I think people can join at the door, as they can at the FODL sales above), December 8th is 10am - 5:30pm, and the bag sale December 9th is 11am - 3pm.  There will also be a Holiday Sip and Shop event, free for members and guests, December 7th 7 - 9pm with wine, appetizers, and dessert.  Next year there will be sales April 5 - 7, September 13 - 15, and December 6 -8 ( friendschpl.org/FCHPLevents ).  I wonder if the CHPL has become more rightist or less open to the community (such as free newspapers) since it was renovated and even the Durham County Library's branches, while offering many amenities, often seem more impersonal and unconnected to the community than their older incarnations, sometimes in rented commercial buildings. 

The Wake County Public Libraries' Annual Book Sale will be at the State Fairgrounds around May.

Rendition Revisted and NCCIT

Part one of the Al Jazeera documentary Rendition Revisited, covering North Carolina's role in the extraordinary rendition and torture programs and the NC Commission of Inquiry on Torture (www.nccit.org), will be broadcast November 28th and streamed online at: www.aljazeera.com/programmes/peopleandpower/  

The NCCIT will brief members of Congress and their staff in Washington December 5 - 6th, and will present a former military interrogator and a doctor who treated survivors of the CIA torture program, and could use donations.  This is the Commission's last official event. 

Russian Marxist Georgi Plekhanov was born November 29, 1856 and was upheld as a founder of the Russian Marxist movement, but was an opponent of the Bolsheviks. 

In the Sand Creek Massacre, starting November 29, 1864, Federal soldiers attacked peaceful Cheyenne and Arapaho villagers camped along Big Sandy Creek in what is now Colorado (where they had asked them to gather, displaying a US flag and a white flag), killing about 230 Indians, predominantly women, children, and elders, as well as committing torture and mutilation, before leaving the area December 1st.  Some soldiers refused to attack the village, but the perpetrators received little punishment and no criminal prosecution (from Wikipedia as well as www.nps.gov/sand/learn/historyculture/index.htm ).

Mark Twain (Samuel L Clemens), acclaimed author as well as vice president of the American Anti-Imperialist League, was born November 30, 1835 in Florida, Missouri.

Rendition and torture discussed on The State of Things

WUNC 91.5FM's program The State of Things ( www.wunc.org/programs/state-things#stream/0 )will look at the US government's recent torture program Friday, November 30th (12 - 1pm Friday and broadcast again Saturday, December 1st at 6am, otherwise it would be re-aired the same day at 8pm).  Guests will include Joe Margulies, a defense attorney, and Dr Kate Porterfield, who treated survivors, some with connections to the NC component of the program [this program might have been moved to a different date]. 

Toxins in the Kitchen:  A Practical Guide to Safer Food

Rob Coffin and Elizabeth Miller will talk about toxins that get into the food supply, especially Roundup (or glyphosate, a common herbicide invented by Monsanto, to which GMO crops are immune) and BPA (Bisphenol A, a common endocrine disrupting chemical used in cans, receipts, and many other everyday items and spread into recycled materials), and show an excerpt from Bill Moyers' documentary Trade Secrets Friday, November 30th at 6:30 at the Ecolounge in Durham (2811 Hillsborough Road; communecos.org/recyclique-shop/ ).  There will be light refreshments and there is a suggested donation of $5 dollars, but it is not required to attend. 

December 1st is World AIDS Day, the first global health day ( www.worldaidsday.org/about/ )

Waste Not :  Living the Low Carbon Life

Learn about the connections between greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, the soil, food waste, and how to have a positive impact at this conference Saturday, December 1st 9am - 2pm at the Church of the Good Shepherd in downtown Raleigh (125 Hillsborough Street).  For more information and registration, see:  www.zerowastechurch.org/2018/11/21/save-the-date/ and www.eventbrite.com/e/waste-not-living-the-low-carbon-life-tickets-47025647979?aff=efbeventtix

Durham Tree Giveaway 2018!

Keep Durham Beautiful will give 250 free tree seedlings to residents of Durham, one per person, December 1st 1:30 - 4:30pm.  People can reserve their tree, but it is also first come, first served ( keepdurhambeautiful.org/events/ ).  Several businesses will offer specials to people who have a receipt from KDB and a selfie with their planted tree.  The event will be in East Durham Children's Initiative's parking lot (2101Angier Avenue). 

Peace With Iran Summit 2018

Discuss the situation and how to oppose the Trump Administrations sanctions and push for a major war with Iran Saturday, December 1st 9am - 5pm at the First Congregational United Church of Christ (945 G Street NW in Washington, DC.  Registration is on a sliding scale, $100 to $10 dollars.  Organized by CODEPINK, with many cosponsors.  For more information, see www.codepink.org/iransummit or www.facebook.com/events/390712754800268/

Help pull English ivy in Greensboro

The Triad Chapter of the NC Native Plant Society and the Pearson chapter of the NC Audubon Society are organizing a cleanup of invasive English ivy in a bog garden in Greensboro (along the Nell Lewis Trail) Saturday, December 1st 9:30am - 12pm, meeting at the Starmount Farms Drive entrance.  The site is a slope and participants might want to bring food, water, work gloves, and a shovel.  For more information, email annwf7 at gmail period com. 

Remembering Bolin Forest

Friends of Bolin Creek is organizing a memorial for the 40 acres of Bolin Forest being clear-cut in Orange County on Sunday, December 2nd 4 - 5pm in Smith Middle School's auditorium (9201 Seawell School Road, Chapel Hill) for people to share their memories, followed by a candlelight/flashlight walk and silent vigil at the entrance to the Chapel Hill North Woods, 5 - 5:30pm].  The Paperhand Puppets will also be there.  For more information see:  bolincreek.org/blog/join-us-at-the-vigil/ 

Important hearings at the Durham City Council meeting December 3rd

Among other things, there will be a quasi-judicial hearing (meaning comments are sworn testimony with cross-examination and so can't be sent in before the meeting) on the Durham Public Schools Elementary School C Major Site Plan (D1600105), for a 86,325 square foot, two-story facility on 17.70 acres of the 46.30 acre site on the south side of Scott King Road near its east end at Grandale Road.  There is also an attendant Special Use Permit (M1800003) and Transportation Special Use Permit (T1600001).  There was an uproar over plans for residential construction (Scott Mill) at this former homestead or farm, bordering a large area of forested Jordan Lake Gamelands along Northeast Creek and near the American Tobacco Trail several years ago, so a deal was made to use it for a school instead.  There was a small two-story house, seemingly self-built, and a small dark-colored farmpond with bladderworts in the center, and another house nearby.  Some of the land is cleared and crossed by powerline and gas pipeline corridors, and the soil seems very poor or degraded, but there are still rare sights around the edges.  On the edges of the site there are what seem to be pink ladyslipper orchids and milk-vetch, and there have been indigo buntings and something like a whippoorwill was nesting, so it is more than just eroded and exhausted former farmland, and the DPS doesn't seem to have taken this into consideration in its plans.  Building a school there might be a good use of the site, if something has to be built there, but was it planned with due consideration for the ecological value of the site?  Scott King Road can also be dangerous and needs work. 

There will also be a hearing on rezoning for a Rail Operations and Maintenance Facility (ROMF) for the light rail project.  The Durham People's Alliance is mobilizing people to attend in support of the ROMF rezoning and asking people to email Duke President Vincent Price, asking that Duke support the project.  The meeting will start at 7pm at City Hall ( durhamnc.gov/AgendaCenter ).   

The first Plowshares direct action disarmament in Europe and 7th in all was December 4, 1983.  Carl Kabat, one of the Plowshare Eight defendants from the first action, in Pennsylvania, and Herwig Jantschik, Dr Wolfgang Sternstein, and Karin Vix of Germany cut through a fence at a US Army base in Schwabisch-Gmund, West Germany and damaged a Pershing II missile launcher.  The deployment of these American intermediate-range nuclear missiles in West Germany was apparently very unpopular and they no longer exist, thanks to the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, which Trump wants to withdraw from (Russia and China support the INF Treaty).  Kabat left the country while the three Germans were charged with trespassing, attempted sabotage, and destruction of property.  The defendants had the option of imprisonment or fines, so Jantschik was imprisoned for 90 days, Vix for 60 days, and Dr Sternstein paid 1800 Deutsche Marks.  Similar direct actions are still going on today.  See Swords Into Plowshares:  Nonviolent Direct Action for Disarmament, edited by Arthur J Laffin and Anne Montgomery, published in 1987.       

24 Hours of Reality

This streamed documentary on the impact of climate change on human health around the world will start with the USA December 3rd at 9pm, gets to Europe at 9am on the 4th, and will look at this country again on the 4th at 7 - 9pm.  It is online at:  www.24hoursofreality.org

Monthly Earth Justice Potluck and film

This event will be December 4th, with a potluck meal at 6pm and a showing of the documentary HOPE [Healing Of Planet Earth] What You Eat Matters, which looks at the food system in Europe, India, and the USA, from 6:30 - 8pm.  Apparently there are potentially disturbing descriptions and video of the way animals are treated in industrial agriculture.  This will be at the Eno River Unitarian Universalist Fellowship's fellowship hall (4907 Garrett Road, Durham); for more information contact jonsheline at gmail period com. 

Consider This ... Artificial Intelligence

There will be a panel discussion on economic, legal, and ethical aspects of artificial intelligence and machined learning Tuesday, December 4th 6:30 - 8pm at the Friday Conference Center (100 Friday Center Drive, left/south off of NC 54 going into Chapel Hill from Durham).  There might not be a working class perspective offered, but if advances in computing and robotics occur as predicted, especially under capitalist economic relations, artificial intelligence will be a major problem for the working class and all of humanity in the 21st century.  On the other hand maybe advances are being exaggerated for corporate purposes and something with general human capabilities won't be invented anytime soon or ever.  This is a public and free event organized by the UNC General Alumni Association.  For more information or registration, see:  alumni.unc.edu/events/consider-this-artificial-intelligence/

Soviet Constitution Day was December 5th from 1936 until 1977, when a new constitution was promulgated (October 7th, the more recent Soviet Constitution Day).

Imprisoned Japanese anti-imperialist Tsutomu Shirosaki was born December 5, 1947 in Toyoma, Japan.  A few years ago he was released from US custody, but is now finishing a previous prison sentence somewhere in Japan.  It might be possible to write to prisoners in Japan, but I haven't come across any information about where he is being held.  For background, see a previous post ( durhamspark.blogspot.com/2015/01/tsutomu-shirosaki-japanese-anti.html ) and denverabc.wordpress.com/prisoners-dabc-supports/political-prisoners-database/tsutomu-shirosaki/ .  If there is any news, it would probably be posted at: throwoutyourbooks.wordpress.com/tag/tsutomu-shirosaki/

Monthly tours of the South Wake Landfill and Sonoco Recycling Facility

There will be free one hour tours of these facilities near Apex once a month from December through May on Wednesdays or Saturdays (and private tours for groups with 5 to 14 people can be arranged).  The December tour will be Wednesday, the 5th at 9:30am.  For more information and registration see:  www.wakegov.com/recycling/outreach/Pages/tours.aspx     

Wild Ideas for Tomorrow, Today

Organized by the Triangle Land Conservancy, 5 speakers will each give 5 minute presentations on 5 issues in land conservation in the Triangle region, such as local population trends and climate change.  There will also be an expo featuring related organizations and businesses.  The next event will be Wednesday, December 5th 5:30 - 8pm at The Frontier at RTP (800 Park Office Drive in RTP 27709).  For more information and registration, see:  www.triangleland.org/explore/wild-ideas

Conserving North Carolina's Imperiled Plants

Lesley Starke, Plant Biologist of the NC Plant Conservation Program, will talk about what this program is doing to conserve rare or threatened plants and their habitats, in this free Lunchbox Talk Thursday, December 6th 12 - 1pm at the NC Botanical Garden.  For more information and registration, see:  ncbg.unc.edu/calendar/

National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day

The Japanese Empire attacked the US Navy base in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii December 7, 1941.  Apparently National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day isn't new, but this is the first year I noticed it on a calendar.  There have been charges that FDR allowed the attack to happen so he would have a justification to officially enter WWII.  Before the attack the US was pressuring Japan economically.  The Trump Administration might have a similar plan today, to put so much pressure on Iran that they react militarily, giving Trump an excuse for the war he and many others in Washington seem to want.  During WWII both the US and Canada put ethnic Japanese citizens in concentration camps, at least in the case of the US, continuing a West Coast tradition of racism against people of East Asian ancestry (for example, see:  www.counterpunch.org/2018/11/27/the-dark-side-of-the-new-deal-fdr-and-the-japanese-americans/ ).       

NC Green Party 2018 Statewide Fall/Winter Gathering and Celebration

The NC Green Party's annual meeting will be December 7 - 9 [moved to January 11 - 13th due to an early and heavy snowstorm] at The Seedbed (6602 Nicks Road, Mebane, just inside Alamance County from Orange County).  The meeting is free and open to all supporters, though voting is limited to people who have paid dues and donations are welcome.  The Seedbed has some space for people to stay overnight Friday and Saturday.  There will a celebration and music December 7th starting at 7pm and there will be meetings (plus meals) December 8th 9am - 5pm and December 9th 10am - 3pm.  For more information or to RSVP, see:  ncgreenparty.nationbuilder.com/2018_fall_gathering

Durham's annual Holiday Parade will be Saturday, December 8th [starting at 10am], and includes contingents from Keep Durham Beautiful and other organizations.  www.dprplaymore.org/309/Holiday-Parade-and-Fun-Fest   

The Chapel Hill Holiday Parade will also be December 8th, 10am - 12pm [rain or shine] ( www.chapelhillholidayparade.com/ ). 

Saxapahaw Holiday Market

This event at the Haw River Ballroom (1711 Saxapahaw-Bethlehem Church Road, Saxapahaw, in Chatham County) December 8 - 9th will offer local art and handicrafts and there will be food and live music.  It will be 9am - 6pm on the 8th and 10am - 5pm on the 9th. 

Winter Seed Share and Social

The Southern Piedmont Chapter of the NC Native Plant Society's Winter Seed Share and Social will be Sunday, December 9th at 2pm at the Reedy Creek Nature Center (2900 Rocky River Road, Charlotte), and is free and open to the public.  Participants are asked to "bring a sweet or savory snack to share."  For the seed share, bring clean seeds of plants native to the Southeast, with labelled their common and scientific names.  Coin envelopes will be offered, up to 10 per person, and each can contain about 1 teaspoon.  People can receive seeds even if they don't have any to share. 

Donations to NCNPS on Giving Tuesday next week and during the last few weeks of the year will go to grants and scholarships ( ncwildflower.org/about/grants_and_scholarships ). 

Human Rights Day is December 10th, marking the UN General Assembly's adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 ( www.un.org/en/universal-declaration-human-rights/index.html ).  There are some related events below. 

From NC Stop Torture Now:

"
CALL-IN FOR HUMAN RIGHTS DAY, Monday, Dec. 10, 2018:  No More North Carolina Torture Taxis!

Please call or send a message to AG Josh Stein and Gov. Roy Cooper -- Sample Message:
 
Today, Dec. 10, is International Human Rights Day.  Please take action in response to the report from the North Carolina Commission of Inquiry on Torture (NCCIT), which your staff have had for weeks.  At least 49 human beings were flown to torture by aircraft based in Smithfield and Kinston.  Supporting torture has left a stain on our reputation, and hurt our national security. 
 
Make a public statement.  Work with other law enforcement officials in our state to start an investigation of Aero Contractors.  Acknowledge North Carolina’s role and take steps for transparency and accountability.  Otherwise, our state may continue to play a role in torture.
 
Enforce state, federal, and international law.  Stop hosting Aero at our public airports.  Torture is always wrong.  Don’t let North Carolina be home to “torture taxis.”
 
ATTORNEY GENERAL JOSH STEIN
North Carolina Department of Justice
Phone:  (919) 716-6400 (NCDOJ general line; leave a “Bill of Rights” comment)
 
GOVERNOR ROY COOPER
Phone:  (919) 814-2000 
Twitter: @NC_Governor

 
Background
 
North Carolina still hosts the CIA-affiliated Aero Contractors at the Johnston County Airport.  The 2018 report from the NC Commission of Inquiry on Torture lists 48 men and one woman who were rendered to torture aboard Aero jets.  SeeTorture Flights:  North Carolina’s Role in the CIA Rendition and Torture Program” (www.nctorturereport.org).
 
Governor Cooper and Attorney General Stein have had the report for weeks.  It outlines how they can and should investigate Aero and end the era of “torture taxis” in North Carolina. 
 
Does Aero continue to help the CIA violate human rights?  We don’t know.  And top U.S. government officials have defended or even helped lead the torture program.  Over 40 prisoners still languish without rights at Guantanamo."   

Chapel Hill activist calendar events:

"Four Civil/Human Rights Actions/Events in Triangle December 10 to 15, 2018

CALL-IN FOR INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS DAY Call or send messages to Governor Roy Cooper and Attorney General Josh Stein to remind them at least 49 human beings were flown to torture by aircraft based in Smithfield and Kinston and supporting torture has left a stain on NC’s reputation and hurt our national security (ncstn.org/content/take-action/ ).  Make NC a “No Torture State.”  Governor:  919-814-2000; AG: 919-716-6400. Monday, December 10, 2018.  
 
DURHAM POLICE ACCOUNTABILITY, WHERE ARE WE NOW?  Speaker Dawn Blagrove, Executive Director, Carolina Justice Center.  1:15 - 2:15 p.m., Monday, December 10, Carol Woods Assembly Hall, 750 Weaver Dairy Road, Chapel Hill. Presented by Forum for Peace and Justice, judybellin [at] gmail [period] com.  Submitted by Peace & Justice Committee

 
SHOW SUPPORT FOR ORANGE COUNTY'S NCCIT RESOLUTION County Commissioners consider a resolution to urge action to make NC a “No Torture State,” following Carrboro and Chapel Hill this week. If unable to attend, join call-in on Human Rights Day, December 10, to Governor Roy Cooper (919-814-2000) and NC Attorney General Josh Stein (919-716-6400) with same message or sign here (ncstn.org/content/take-action/).  Attend 7 p.m., Tuesday, December 11, Southern Human Services Center, 2501 Homestead Road, Chapel Hill. NCCIT (www.nccit.org).
 
ANNUAL READINGS ON BILL OF RIGHTS DAY: Proclamations read by Penny Rich, Chair of Orange County Commissioners; Jessica Anderson, Chapel Hill Mayor Pro Tem; Lydia Lavelle, Mayor of Carrboro.  Raging Grannies. Come read one of first 10 Amendments of United States Constitution. Note 8th Amendment citing cruel and unusual punishment relates to use of solitary confinement and treatment of detainees flown by NC pilots of Aero Contractors (www.nccit.org).  Noon,  Saturday, December 15, Peace and Justice Plaza, corner of East Franklin and Henderson Streets, Chapel Hill.  Orange County Bill of Rights Defense Committee and Orange County  Peace Coalition. 919-942-2535."

The DPRK launched its Kwangmyŏngsŏng [Bright Star or Lodestar]-3 Unit 2 Earth observation satellite into polar orbit December 11, 2012, making it one of the few countries able to independently carry out activities in space.  There is tracking information online at  www.heavens-above.com if you want to look for it. 

Balance and Accuracy in Journalism

Below is BAJ's announcement email for this meeting featuring a censored Al-Jazeera documentary on Israeli meddling in British politics, to overthrow Labor Party leader Jeremy Corbin, who seems to be far more progressive, at least on foreign policy and militarism, than just about any US Democratic politician at the national level (thus many in the UK are trying to get rid of him, I think even including threats of a coup if he were to become prime minister): 

       7:30 PM Wednesday December 12, at the 
Community Church of Chapel Hill, 106 Purefoy Road
          Balance & Accuracy in Journalism
                         presents
 
                     THE LOBBY
     an Al Jazeera Investigations feature
 
An undercover investigator is deemed a potential leader
and welcomed into the Israeli London embassy’s efforts 
to manufacture opposition to bring down UK Labor Party 
leader Jeremy Corbin and other elected officials over 
their support for equal rights for Palestinians.
 
Accusations of Anti-Semitism figure prominently in the tactics. 
Historian Ilan Pappe is one of the people interviewed, plus 
extensive recorded discussion, mostly of young recruits
and their handler.
 
Its broadcast was censored after Qatar, the gas-rich Gulf emirate 
where Al Jazeera is based, was subjected to intense pressure 
by allies and representatives of the state of Israel.
 
The 4 half-hour segments were recently leaked and posted on Youtube
with the title, "The Lobby – USA", where viewing is frequently interrupted 
by ads. (Our DVD is free of ads.)  It’s not clear why the “USA” reference 
is on the Youtube posts.
 
Depending on audience preference, 
we will screen three of the four segments, or all four.
 
See what you think!  We will have several DVD copies
available at the meeting.
    [  ]
  For Balance & Accuracy in Journalism
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
More censorship... this time about the plight of America’s newspapers.
 
"Author, commentator and activist Jim Hightower has been 
fighting the Powers That Be on behalf of the Powers That Ought to Be 
for over four decades."
 
Some years ago, columnist Jim Hightower spoke at the 
Community Church, where he talked about “astroturf,”
the term for false grassroots organizations created by
corporations fending off environmental or other groups.
The Hightower Lowdown has been a staple of 
humorous, aware and colorful advocacy for decades.
 
His November 27 column 
“Free the free press from Wall Street plunderers"
was censored by Creators Syndicate.
See the story and the column, at the FAIR website
or at the Austin Chronicle, where clicking on the link downloads the column -
 
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
 
DIRECTIONS TO BAJ MEETING SITE
106 Purefoy Road, Chapel Hill
  Community Church, Unitarian Universalist       
  FROM EITHER DIRECTION ON THE CHAPEL HILL BYPASS:
  take 15-501 [or 54] to the 15-501 Pittsboro exit
  As you exit, TURN at the traffic light toward Chapel Hill.
  Almost immediately TURN RIGHT just short of the convenience store.
  That's PUREFOY ROAD, and you take it almost half a mile,
  passing two stop signs as it curves left  up the hill
  until you can - just - see the third stop sign ahead of you.
  At that point, there is a driveway on the left
  with a subtle, tan sign for the church.
  That driveway takes you to the parking lot and the Community Church.
  ~~~~~~~~ 

December 13, 1980 Peter De Mott damaged the USS Florida (SSBN-728), an Ohio-class submarine originally equipped with Trident nuclear missiles, just before it was launched at the General Dynamics Electric Boat shipyard in Groton, Connecticut.  DeMott was a member of Jonah House in Baltimore, Maryland and a former seminarian and Vietnam veteran.  During the launch ceremony for the USS Baltimore (SSN-704), a Los Angeles-class fast attack submarine, DeMott came upon a security van left unlocked and with its keys in the ignition, and spontaneously used it to dent the USS Florida's rudder.  He was convicted of criminal mischief and criminal trespass and was imprisoned for one year (Swords Into Plowshares).  According to Wikipedia, the USS Florida launched cruise missiles to disable air defenses at the start of Obama's war on Libya in 2011, the first military action by that submarine or any of its sister ships.  For more on DeMott see: www.commondreams.org/news/2009/02/21/peace-activist-peter-demott-dead-after-fall and www.ncronline.org/blogs/road-peace/committed-life-peter-demott

MERI:  Stop the detention of Aboulie Sowe!

A press conference by the Movement to End Racism and Islamophobia demanding that Abdoulie Sowe from Raleigh be freed from ICE detention, has been rescheduled due to the snow to Thursday, December 13th, 4 - 6pm at the Terry Sanford Federal Building in Raleigh ( 310 New Bern Avenue ).  He is from an immigrant from The Gambia, but has lived in Raleigh for over 25 years and is the primary breadwinner for his family, including 3 children, and his youngest daughter (6 years old) has special needs.  He has kidney disease, diabetes, and hypertension, and has been hospitalized once while in detention and could die because of  inadequate treatment if deported.  People are being asked to contact Congressman David Price, Senator Thom Tillis, and Sean Gallagher, the director of the ICE office in Atlanta (404 893 1206) to ask that Sowe be given a stay of removal and that his medical treatment in detention be investigated (see:  southernvision.ourpowerbase.net/civicrm/mailing/view?reset=1&id=547 and MERI's website is:  merinc.org/ .

Koryo Tours Christmas Party and Winter Sale

If you're in Beijing, China this week you can join the Christmas Party at Koryo Tours' office at 27 Bei Sanlitun East Courtyard (next to Yashow Market), Chaoyang District, Dongzhimen, Beijing 100027 Thursday, December 13th 16:00 - 20:00.  Hear from Nick Bronner, who made the BBC documentary Crossing the Line, on US personnel who defected to the DPRK.  There is also a winter sale, with hand-painted posters from the DPRK, starting at 400 RMB.  They are also offering a discount at www.nkshop.org/ and nknews.org is offering a discount at the same online store.  Koryo Tours offers various trips to the DPRK, Mongolia, Kazakhstan and other ex-Soviet republics in Central Asia, and Russia.  For more information see koryogroup.com/ or call +86 10 6416 7544

Secrecy and the Slaughterhouse talk

UNC Religious Studies PhD candidate Joanna Smith will discuss the connections between animal sacrifice in religion and the practices in modern meat production Friday, December 14th at 6:30 at the Ecolounge in Durham (2811 Hillsborough Road; communecos.org/recyclique-shop/ ).  There is a suggested donation of $5 dollars, but it is not required to attend. 

Bill of Rights Day is December 15th (the US Bill of Rights was ratified December 15, 1791).  Durham City and County used to make annual proclamations for December 15th, thanks to a campaign by the Durham Bill of Rights Committee, but that might not be done now.  The DBORDC no longer exists, but there might still be an Orange County BORDC, and there is a national organization (it changed names in 2016):  rightsanddissent.org/news/bill-rights-day-celebrate-mobilize-remember/     

Orange County's annual reading of the Bill of Rights will be December 15th at noon at Peace and Justice Plaza (in front of the post office at the corner of Franklin Street and Henderson Street, across from UNC. 

December 15, 1970 the Soviet space probe Venera 7 (Venus 7) was the first human spacecraft to land on another planet and send telemetry, confirming that Venus is a hell of runaway greenhouse warming, sulfuric acid, and crushing atmospheric pressure, rather than a pleasant and watery, cloud-covered world. 

Georgian revolutionary and Soviet statesman Joseph Stalin was born December 21, 1879 or 1878 in Gori, Republic of Georgia, then part of the Russian Empire. 

Thomas Sankara, born December 21, 1949, was President of Burkina Faso from 1983 until he was assassinated October 15, 1987, and is known as Africa's Che Guevara. 

December 21st is the winter solstice. 

Sen Katayama, co-founder of the Japanese Communist Party and an official in the Comintern, was born December 26, 1859.  He was also one of the first members of the CPUSA and is buried in the Kremlin Wall Necropolis. 

Chinese revolutionary and statesman Mao Zedong (or Tsetung) was born December 26, 1893 in Hunan Province. 

December 26, 1862, following the Dakota War, 38 Dakota or Dakota Sioux were hung, the largest mass execution in US history.  303 Dakota were convicted of murder or rape, some in trials lasting less than 5 minutes, and without defense attorneys, but Lincoln commuted 264 prisoners and one more received a reprieve.  They were buried in a mass grave, possibly after skin was taken from some of the bodies, and graverobbers later stole some of the bodies for anatomy specimens.  Except for a group that helped the American settlers, the rest of the Dakota lost their reservation and were exiled from Minnesota over the next few months, and many died during the journey.  Any Dakota found in Minnesota could be killed for a bounty of $25 dollars.  The unrelated Ho-chunk tribe was also expelled.  Some Dakota remained in Minnesota or returned 20 years later.   

The Wounded Knee Massacre was December 29, 1890 in the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota.  US soldiers went to disarm a camp of Miniconjou and Hunkpapa Lakota and it became a massacre of 300 men, women, and children, with an additional 51 wounded, some fatally.  25 soldiers were killed and 39 wounded, some fatally.  Many of the soldiers received the Medal of Honor.   

NC Green Party Statewide Winter Gathering and Celebration moved to January 11 - 13th in Mebane ( ncgreenparty.nationbuilder.com/2018_fall_gathering )

The annual HKonJ (Historic Thousands on Jones Street) march in downtown Raleigh will be February 9, 2019 ( www.hkonj.com/ ). 

Creek Weeks in 2019

According to the Haw River Assembly, there will be creek weeks in the region:

Durham County (March 16 - 23)
Forsyth County (March 23 - 30)
Guilford County (March 23 - 30)
Alamance County (April 6 - 13)

And I think there is something similar around this time for Swift Creek in Wake County.

The HRA's annual Clean-Up-A-Thon will be March 16th. 

The HRA will be doing water testing December 15 - 16th and March 23 - 24th.

There is a tradition of New Year's Day hikes at state parks, and the HRA is organizing a hike at the Lower Haw River State Natural Area on January 1st ( see www.hawriver.org or email info at hawriver ).   

Support Palestine in DC 2019 will be March 24th in Washington ( www.facebook.com/events/322305558560731/ ). 

A Call for a Mass Mobilization to Oppose NATO, War and Racism

Gather in Washington, DC's Lafayette Square, across Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House, at 1pm Saturday, March 30th and there will be other events Wednesday, April 4th at the start of the NATO summit in DC.  For more information or to endorse the United National Antiwar Coalition's call to action, see:  nepajac.org/april4rally.html

Pyongyang Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Conference April 18 - 25 (register by February 10th; this is an international conference and Americans and others are welcome to attend):  www.korea-dpr.com/dprk-blockchain-conference-2019.html