Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Durham County Library seed banks and the Spring Book Sale

The Durham County Library is starting the Digging Durham Seed Library, where people can donate and check out seeds that grow well in the area ( http://durhamcountylibrary.org/2014/02/announcing-the-digging-durham-seed-library/ ).  The seed library is open for donations now, and seeds can be checked out starting on the 23rd.  The Library is also holding workshops on seed saving - there was one at the South Regional Library last Sunday, but there will be two more at the Southwest Regional Library April 12th, 3-5pm, and at the Main Library April 15th, 6:30-8:30pm ( http://durhamcountylibrary.org/2014/03/seed-saving-workshops/ ).  Hopefully this will encourage more people to garden or grow their own food, and it could help preserve food biodiversity.        

The Friends of the Durham Library's Spring Book Sale (one of two each year) is also coming up this weekend in the garage at the Main Library.  This Friday's sale, 4-7pm, is for FODL members only (new members can join starting at 2pm) and the regular sale is Saturday, 10-4.  On Sunday (2-5pm) you can buy a paper grocery bag of books for just $7.  The regular price is a dollar for hardcovers and trade paperbacks and 50 cents for smaller paperbacks, with higher (but still pretty low) prices for special items.  They have over 50,000 books, tapes, CDs, DVDs, flash cards, etc. This is one of my favorite annual events in Durham and it's a good place to find old or rare political works, though you have to search to find them.    

Thursday, January 23, 2014

A moment of silence for Becky Heron

This evening NPR announced that former Durham County Commissioner Becky Heron passed away. It seemed like she was a permanent part of the Commission until she retired a few years ago. She was a commissioner from December 6, 1982 to August 1, 2011, and the first woman chairperson from December 1994 to 1996. In 1995 the NC Association of County Commissioners selected her as that year's Oustanding County Commissioner. She was known for her green and progressive stands. I knew she was doing good work on the Commission, though I was young, but it wasn't until recent years that I followed local government closely, and witnessed her courageous stands on land use issues. I offer my condolences to her family.

Hopefully one or both of the county commissioners elected in 2012 will continue Heron's pro-environmental stand.

For more information, see:

Sunday, September 08, 2013

Anti-war rallies Monday, Petraeus at Duke, etc.

Reject aggression against Syria:

There will be at least two rallies against attacking Syria Monday in central NC. You can see how your representative is leaning at: http://firedoglake.com/syria-war-whip/ As of now, it looks like David Price and Mel Watt lean toward approval of a war that would violate international law. G.K. Butterfield has not made a statement. Walter Jones plans to vote against war, and George Holding leans towards a no vote.  Many Republicans are cool to Obama's war plans, but it would be a mistake to call the Republican or Democratic parties anti-war, since that usually means or should mean principled rejection of imperialist wars or war in general, not temporary opposition to wars that are unpopular or launched by a president from the other party.   

Chapel Hill (Orange County Peace Coalition):

Vigil for US Diplomatic Response to Crisis in Syria
Monday, September 9th, 6-7 pm at Peace and Justice Plaza (in front of the Chapel Hill Post Office, at the corner of East Franklin and Henderson streets. They say to bring signs.

As always, there is a separate vigil Friday 5-6pm at East Franklin and Elliot streets, near University Mall.

Greensboro (World Can't Wait):

What: NO WAR ON SYRIA rally

When: Monday, Sept. 9, 2013, 5-6pm

Where: Federal Building, corner of W. Market and Eugene St.

With or without Congressional approval, an attack by the U.S. military can only mean more suffering for the Syrian people. History shows this very clearly: more than a decade of war for US empire in Iraq and Afghanistan has brought devastation to those countries that will take decades to undo. A widespread campaign of drone bombing and US-led air-strikes across the Middle East and North Africa has brought instability and massive suffering to millions of people. The US-led wars have resulted in hundreds of thousandsof civilian deaths, all for the benefit of strategic economic interests of US elites, whose concerns about Syria are anything but “humanitarian.”

Our empathy with the Syrian people and the people throughout the region leads us to stand against US military strikes. We will not let our empathy be twisted into a cry for war for empire!

We are not taking sides in the Syrian civil war. We are taking responsibility for the actions of the U.S. government! Our empathy with the Syrian people is NOT a cry for war!

Monday, Sept. 9, 2013, 5-6pm: Rally at the Federal Building, corner of W. Market and Eugene St.”

General Petraeus Speaking at Duke:

Retired general and alleged war criminal David Petraeus will be speaking at Duke's Page Auditorium 6 to 7:15 pm on the 11th, as part of Duke's Program in American Grand Strategy (see http://sites.duke.edu/agsp/2013/08/07/ambassador-dave-and-kay-phillips-family-international-lecture/ ).

Here is how they plan to greet Petraeus Monday at the City University of New York, where he will be teaching a course:
Protest Petraeus’s first day of class

Monday, Sept. 9th, 2:30 p.m.

CUNY Must Not Be A War College!

War Criminal Petraeus, ROTC, Military Contracts, and Military Recruiters: Out of CUNY!

Protest Petraeus’s first day of class

When: Monday, September 9th, 2:30 p.m.

Where: Macaulay Honors College, 35 West 67th St.
(between Central Park West and Columbus Ave.)

CUNY has signed up a war criminal to “teach” at the Macaulay Honors College. Join with us in protesting this outrage.

The Board of Trustees has appointed former CIA chief David Petraeus – ex-commander of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars – to give a course titled “Are We On the Threshold of the North American Decade?” at the Macaulay Honors College. Whether being paid $200,000 or $1 (the amount his pay has been reduced to following widespread indignation at his salary), this mass murderer must not be allowed to teach at CUNY. The importance of mass protest is highlighted by the fact that many CUNY students and their families come from countries targeted by the U.S. military and dominated by U.S. imperialism.

As commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, Petraeus rained death on Afghan civilians. As commander of “coalition” forces in Iraq, he ran the imperialist slaughter of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis. Petraeus brought Col. James Steele – who commanded death squads in Vietnam and Central America – to Iraq to organize and train death squads which carried out “the worst acts of torture” during the U.S. occupation (London Guardian, 6 March).

As CIA chief, Petraeus was the architect of almost 3,000 “targeted killings” by drones.

Meanwhile, the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) program is being revived at CCNY, York, Medgar Evers and the College of Staten Island. ROTC was ousted from CUNY in 1971 after widespread protests against its role recruiting and training officers for the U.S. war in Vietnam that killed an estimated 3 million Vietnamese.

The appointment of Petraeus follows CCNY’s recent establishment of the Colin Powell Center, named after the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the U.S. invasion of Panama (1989) and the first Persian Gulf War (1991).

The increasing militarization of CUNY is also reflected in military recruiters; Army and Navy “missile command” and “air warfare” representatives’ participation in a CCNY conference on “Automatic Target Sensing”; arms manufacturers Raytheon, Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin’s backing for CCNY’s $198 million Advanced Science Research Center, etc.

CUNY security’s relationship with the NYPD has expanded in recent years. While campus cops work closely with the NYPD to repress student and worker protests, business-as-usual for the NYPD includes spying on Muslim students on campus. CUNY campus “peace officers” are able to make arrests and to use deadly force (included in the CUNY administration’s arsenal are hollow-point bullets, which even the NYPD is not supposed to use (New York Post, 6 May 1999).

Against this growing militarization of CUNY, the time for massive protest is now!

Ad Hoc Committee Against the Militarization of CUNY

The September 9 protests demanding “CUNY Must Not Be a War College” and “War Criminal Petraeus, ROTC, Military Contracts and Military Recruiters: Out of CUNY!” have been endorsed by the following organizations and individuals (list in formation): Internationalist Group, CUNY Internationalist Clubs, Revolutionary Student Coordinating Committee, Students Without Borders at Queens College, Class Struggle Education Workers, Workers Power-US, IGNITE, Movimiento Socialista de Trabajadores-NYC, AsociaciĆ³n de Estudiantes Latinas/os y Latinoamericanas/os of CUNY, Sister Circle Collective, Dr. Hester Eisenstein of Queens College and the Graduate Center, CUNY, Carmelina Cartei, Anakbayan-NY.

Communist Voice for September:

Last Tuesday was the last airing of the August programs (Manchuria 1945... & The War on Freedom on TPC and Truth & Politics, a David Ray Griffiths lecture on DCM, and the difference is because there was a disc problem). This Tuesday Loose Change: Final Cut, a 9/11 truth documentary, should begin airing on both cable access stations at 6pm on Tuesdays.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Demonstrate against an attack on Syria

There were demonstrations and protests against the prospect of a war with Syria last weekend and today, and more are coming up this weekend before Congress votes next week:

Every week there is an anti-war vigil in Chapel Hill at the corner of Franklin Street and Elliot Road (Village Plaza), from 5-6pm at this time of year. 

As part of this year's Radical Rush at UNC, there will be a speak out against "bullshit" at 6pm in the Pit in front of the Student Union, and imperialist war should be included. 

Saturday (9/7) at 2:30 Black Workers for Justice is organizing a rally against the war at the MLK Gardens (900 Rock Quarry Road) in Raleigh. 

[ More rallies scheduled for Saturday in Raleigh, Charlotte, and Asheville (and on the 12th) are listed at www.unitedforpeace.org/stop-syria-strike/syria-actions/ ]

There will be two national demonstrations in Washington, DC, marching from the White House to the Capitol.  One will be Saturday at 12 and the other Monday at 10am.  For more information, visit: answercoalition.org 

A petition to the members of Congress representing the Triangle and Obama is online at:


[ Pledge not to vote for the members of Congress who authorize war with Syria at:  http://www.petitionbuzz.com/petitions/peacevoter ]

Monday, April 29, 2013

May Day 2013

Here are some local events marking (or sort of marking) International Workers' Day (May 1st), labor day for much of the world. 
5/1 Raleigh:  There will be a rally 3-4pm in Moore Square followed by a march to the NC Legislature and then a rally 5:30-8 at Halifax Square (16 West Jones Street).  For more information call 919 533 9203, see Facebook http://bit.ly/May1Ral, or maydaytrianglenc.wordpress.com/
The NC Student Power Union is rallying 1:30-2:20 at the NCSU Bell Tower before marching to join the rally at Moore Square.  See http://studentpowernc.org/mayday/ for more information and transportation. 
I thought there was traditionally a marijuana legalization rally in Raleigh on the 1st, but a quick search doesn't turn up any events this year. 
5/1 Chapel Hill:  Anarchists will be rallying at the Peace and Justice Plaza in front of the Post Office on Franklin Street at 5pm. 
5/5 Sanford:  Workers Taking a Stand Against Fracking  There will be a rally by Workers for Clean Water at Lee County Depot Park (106 Charlotte Avenue) in Sanford at 3pm.  It is organized by Cumnock Preservation, Ed Harris (Stand Your Ground), and Blue Ridge Environmental Defense.  For more information see:  http://croatanearthfirst.com/2013/04/23/may-5-workers-for-clean-water-event/ .  
5/5 Durham: 
Profit versus the common good in NC government
Legislators are rolling back democratic decisionmaking and laws protecting the social good in favor of elite profits. Join a discussion of this business first policy and what can be done, Sunday, May 5th at 3pm at Durham's Southwest Library (3605 Shannon Road), meeting room A.  For more information email michael_pollock at yahoo dot com. 
If you know of other events, please comment or email me. 

Monday, March 18, 2013

ANSWER statement on the 10th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq

Confronting the lies about the Iraq invasion

Statement by Brian Becker, ANSWER national coordinator

March 18, 2013

Ten years ago, the United States and Britain invaded Iraq. The history of how this invasion came about has been largely falsified by both the right-wing supporters of the invasion and the liberal commentators who opposed the war.

The core argument of the professional liberal commentators and historians is that Bush hoodwinked the country and the general public, with the help of a supplicant media, by scaring people into thinking that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and the Bush administration had to invade to defend America and its people.

The fallacious handwringing liberal position was typified in the recent 10th-anniversary account of the war by Micah Sifry, published by the National Memo.

"But 10 years ago, it was not a good time to be a war skeptic in America. It rarely is. The vast majority of 'smart' and 'serious' people had convinced themselves that in the face of Saddam Hussein's alleged stockpiling of weapons of mass destruction, the prudent thing to do was to go to war to remove him from power," writes Sifry.

This is a fanciful and false account.

The "country" was not hoodwinked. There was no general feeling that the U.S. must strike first or be engulfed by Saddam Hussein's military.

The opposite was true. The people of this country—and the world—mobilized in unprecedented numbers prior to a military conflict under the banner: "Stop the War Before it Starts."

An unprecedented, massive anti-war movement

In the months prior to the invasion, I was the central organizer of the mass anti-war actions in Washington, D.C., that brought many hundreds of thousands of people into the streets of the capital in repeated demonstrations—on Oct. 26, 2002; Jan. 18, 2003; and March 15, 2003.

The Jan. 18, 2003, demonstration filled up a vast expanse of the Mall west of the Capitol building, which houses the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. The Washington Post described the Jan. 18 demonstration as the largest anti-war protest since the end of the Vietnam War.

In addition to the Washington demonstrations, there were mass anti-war protests in cities throughout the United States, on both the east and west coasts and nearly everywhere in between.

Thousands of organizations and millions of individuals were participants and organizers in this grassroots global movement.

On Feb. 15, 2003, there were coinciding demonstrations in more than 1,000 cities in almost every country—including many hundreds of cities and towns in the United States.

The rise of a global anti-war movement of such magnitude—before the actual start of military hostilities—was without precedent in human history. Mass anti-war movements and even revolutions have occurred inside one or more of the warring countries at the time of their defeat or perceived defeat, but the Iraq anti-war movement of 2002-2003 was in anticipation of a war and before the gruesome impact of the slaughter could be seen and felt.

The depth of the movement was breathtaking for the organizers and the participants. Millions went into the streets over and over and over again. They knew that they were in a race against time. Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld were likewise racing to go to war, not because Iraq was getting stronger or closer to having weapons of mass destruction but because this global grassroots anti-war movement had the potential to shake the political status quo to its very foundations

In February 2003, The New York Times described the global anti-war movement as the world's "second super-power."

Why the race toward war

It was under these circumstances that the "mass media" went into overdrive to promote the war. Anti-war voices on television were booted off the air. The airwaves were filled up with the obviously bogus imagery that Iraq in league with unspecified "Muslim terrorists" was about to engulf the United States in a nuclear mushroom cloud. The message was that war was inevitable and that protests were futile.

Bush rushed hundreds of thousands of troops to Kuwait in a race to launch the invasion that they knew was likely to destroy the Iraqi military in a few weeks.

The Democratic Party leaders in Congress had already acquiesced to Bush and Cheney's war demands. Even though the calls and letters to Congress against the war were running 200 to 1, both the Senate and the House of Representatives, by lopsided margins, passed resolutions on Oct. 11, 2002, authorizing Bush to use the armed forces of the United States against Iraq.

The Iraq invasion was a criminal enterprise. Millions of Iraqis died, more than five million were forced into the miserable life of refugees, thousands of U.S. troops were killed and tens of thousands of others suffered life-changing physical and mental injuries.

Today, Bush and Cheney are writing books and collecting huge speaking fees. They are shielded from prosecution by the current Democratic-led government.

The war in Iraq was not simply a "mistake" nor was it the consequence of a hoodwinked public. It was rather a symptom of the primary reality of the modern-day political system in the U.S. This system is addicted to war. It relies on organized violence, or the threat of violence, to maintain the dominant position of the United States all over the world. The U.S. has invaded or bombed one country after another since the end of the so-called Cold War. It has military bases in 130 countries and spends more on lethal violence than all other countries combined. Yes, in the United States the adult population is encouraged to vote every two or four years for one of two ruling-class parties that enforce the global projection of U.S. empire with equal vigor when they take turns at the helm. And this is labeled the exercise of "democracy" and proof that the United States is indeed the land of the free.

The invasion of Iraq succeeded in creating mass human suffering and death. What Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld failed to anticipate was that the Iraqi people, like all people everywhere, would never willingly accept life under occupation. It was the unanticipated resistance of the Iraqi people that eventually forced the withdrawal of the occupation forces nine long years later.

Brian Becker was the lead organizer of the largest anti-war demonstrations in Washington, D.C., between Oct. 26, 2002, and the start of the Iraq invasion on March 19, 2003. The October demonstration drew 200,000 people. Less than two months later, on Jan. 18, 2003, approximately 500,000 demonstrated again in what the Washington Post called the "largest anti-war demonstration" in Washington, D.C., since the end of the Vietnam War. On Feb. 15, 2003, millions of people demonstrated in nearly 1,000 cities around the world, including several hundred cities and towns in the United States. On March 15, just four days before the start of the invasion, 100,000 demonstrated once gain in Washington, D.C.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Celeberate Durham Creek Week 2013

Durham's annual Creek Week ( www.durhamcreekweek.org) is coming up, March 16th - 23rd, with many different kinds of events for all ages throughout the County.  There will be trash cleanups along Sandy, Third Fork, and Northeast creeks in the New Hope River basin and Ellerbe and Warren creeks, Eno River, and Lake Michie in the Neuse River basin.  People will be able to see trout lilies, bloodroot, and other spring ephemeral wildflowers, amphibians, dragonflies, butterflies, beavers, and the importance of wetlands at hikes and presentations at Eno River State Park, Penny's Bend, the Museum of Life and Science, 17 Acre Wood, Sandy Creek Park, and elsewhere.  Kids can participate in intersession camps such as the Schoolhouse of Wonder's camp that will create art from junk otherwise marring the Eno River.  No dumping storm drain labels can be requested from Durham Stormwater Services at City Hall and March 21st dog owners can pledge not to leave waste out to pollute our waterways. 
For those in the Winston-Salem area, Durham Creek Week is inspiring a similar celeberation in Forsyth County (watch this space: www.forsythcreekweek.org/index.html ).