Saturday, January 31, 2015

Upcoming activist events

A partial list of some upcoming social justice and conservation events in the Triangle:

Our Future Flies on the Wings of Pollinators 

There will be a presentation about steps we can take to help pollinator insects, which are vital for many of our crops and the natural world, tomorrow, Sunday, February 1st, 3-4pm at Durham's South Regional Library.  It's free, but an RSVP is requested online at http://durhamcountylibrary.org/location/south/ (see the upcoming events listing, and click this event) or call 919 560 7410.   

Events relating to Palestinian rights:

From a local activist calendar: 

"Palestinians in Gaza and from Syria - Shattered Families in the Middle East: Bill Corcoran, President and CEO of American Near East Refugee Aid (ANERA), will illustrate its humanitarian efforts and provide insights regarding future of instability in that region.  ANERA is an American NGO dedicated to improving lives of Palestinian communities through health care, education, and economic development.  7 PM, Mon, Feb 2, NCSU’s Withers Hall Auditorium 232A, 101 Lampe Dr, off Hillsborough St,  Raleigh.  Sponsored by NCSU International Studies Club and Coalition for Peace with Justice. 6 -7:30 PM, Tue, Feb 3, UNC's FedEx Global Education Center Room 1005, corner of McCauley and Pittsboro Sts, Chapel Hill. Sponsored by Carolina Center for Study of the Middle East and Muslim Civilizations, Duke-UNC Consortium for Middle East Studies, Center for Global Initiatives, Curriculum in Peace, War, and Defense, Duke-UNC Rotary Peace Center, Curriculum in Global Studies, and Coalition for Peace with Justice." 

"The Stones Cry OutDocumentary film of Palestinian Christians, part of ongoing series of films on social justice issues called "The Conscientious Projector." Info:www.thestonescryout.com. Public invited.  7 PM, Tue, Feb 3, Episcopal Church of the Advocate, 8410 Merin Rd, off Homestead Rd from MLK Blvd, Chapel Hill."

"Silencing Dissent: Academic Freedom and Censorship:  Discharged Palestinian-American professor Steven Salaita speaks, 7:30 PM, Wed, Feb 4, Duke's Sanford School of Public Policy Room 04, corner of Science Dr and Towerview Rd (parking at Bryan Center deck), Durham. Organized by Duke Students for Justice in Palestine and cosponsored by African and African American Studies, Duke Islamic Studies Center, Romance Studies, and Center for Global Studies and the Humanities."

"Uncivil Rites: Academic Freedom and Silencing of Speech:  Discharged Palestinian-American professor Steven Salaita speaks, 7:30 PM, Thu, Feb 5, UNC's Hyde Hall, (third building in line directly opposite PO on  E Franklin St; parking in town deck on Rosemary St). Organized by Students for Justice in Palestine-UNC and UNC Concerned Faculty for Palestine and cosponsored by Carolina Seminar on Rethinking Palestine/Israel, Institute for Arts and Humanities, Sept of Romance Studies, Dept of Anthropology Sept of Asian Studies, South Asia Faculty Working Goup, Center for Global Initiatives, Carolina Asia Center, Sept of Sociology, Social and Economic Justice Minor."

ACLU events:

"Privacy Under Attack: How the Government is Watching You": ACLU of NC's Invitation to learn about surveillance technology being used across NC and to urge lawmakers to protect our privacy. We must act now in order to preserve our constitutional right to privacy in the 21st century. 9 - 10 AM, (breakfast served at 8 AM), Thu, Feb 5, Legislative Auditorium, 3rd floor NC Legislative Building, 16 W Jones St, Raleigh. RSVP: mmeno@acluofnc.org or 919-834-3466." 

And Then There Was One: How targeted regulations cripple and close clinics: Speaker Sarah Preston, Policy Director, American Civil Liberties Union of NC.  Find out how regulations are used to harass patients and staff inside clinics and learn how we can fight back against those who seek to close clinics.  7 PM, Thu, Feb 5, Chapel Hill Friends Meeting House, 531 Raleigh Rd.  RSVP: 321-663-8598. Sponsored by NOW chapters in Durham, Chapel Hill, and Raleigh." 


Vigils:

"Ongoing vigils for justice and peace: Raleigh: Stop the Arms Race and Build a Culture of Peace Vigil, 1st Wednesday of every month, Noon to 1 PM, Century Post Office on Fayetteville St; Raleigh: End the death penalty (PFADP, AI-USA, NC-ACLU), 5 - 6 PM, Mondays, Central Prison, corner of Hunt Dr and Western Blvd; Chapel Hill: 4:30 - 5:30 PM EST [5-6 PM EDT], Fridays, corner of Elliott Rd and East Franklin St."   

Labor events: 

There will be rallies around the country April 15th demanding that the minimum wage be raised to $15/hour.  February 3rd at 12pm the NC AFL-CIO is hosting a planning meeting in Raleigh, with lunch provided, but participants need to RSVP.   

In the campaign to get better working conditions for tobacco farmworkers (along the lines of the successful Mt Olive Pickle campaign), there will be a rally Saturday, February 7, from 10 to 10:45am at the Kangaroo station at 106 East 54, near the intersection of 54 and Fayetteville Road and Southpoint Mall.  

Upcoming demonstrations:

The annual HKonJ (Historic 1000's on Jones Street) People's Assembly and Moral March on Raleigh will be Saturday, February 14th.  There will be carpools and buses, but I only have information for Chapel Hill/Carrboro (contact naacp5689 at gmail ).

The Spring Rising anti-war intervention in Washington, DC will have events March 18-21 (www.springrising.org).  

Durham Creek Week:

The annual Durham Creek Week is shaping up to be bigger than ever, March 21-28 at locations throughout Durham (see http://keepdurhambeautiful.org/our-events/durham-creek-week-events/ ).  

Saturday, January 24, 2015

UNC Student Action with Workers meeting Tuesday

It's good to see that UNC's Student Action with Workers is still going strong (it started in 2003).  The first meeting of the spring semester/new member meeting is next Tuesday, January 27th, at 5pm in Murphy 112 (near Davis Library).  

Website:  uncsaw.wordpress.com
Twitter:  @uncsaw
Facebook:  www.facebook.com/pages/Student-Action-with-Workers/179876058757165

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Tsutomu Shirosaki, Japanese anti-imperialist, released by US for deportation

Until I came across articles posted online by the Denver Anarchist Black Cross, I wasn't aware that the USA held anyone accused of involvement with the now defunct Japanese Red Army. Tsutomu Shirosaki was imprisoned at a low security Federal prison in Yazoo City, Mississippi until January 16th, and is now being held by immigration authorities for deportation to Japan. I wish him well and hope he doesn't disappear into the Japanese prison system. Terrorism has a romantic aspect, but it is usually futile, as opposed to mass political movements, violent or not. It is impressive that Japanese people went so far for Palestinian national liberation, but ultimately the JRA and related groups don't seem to have accomplished much beyond getting their members imprisoned or killed.

Shirosaki was born December 5, 1947 in Toyama, Japan. He studied engineering in college and became a student activist. At some point he turned to violent actions, robbing banks for political funding. In 1971 he was arrested for trying to rob a Bank of Yokohama office in Tokyo and was given a 10 year prison sentence.

Several years later, on September 28, 1977, five Japanese Red Army members hijacked Japan Airlines Flight 472 from Paris to Tokyo shortly after a stop in Mumbai, India, to force the Japanese government to give them $6 million dollars and release 9 prisoners, including Shirosaki. Six of the prisoners were released to the hijackers in Dhaka, Bangladesh October 2nd and they took the airliner ultimately to Algeria. The hijackers and ex-prisoners managed to reach Lebanon. Japan demanded that the prisoners turning themselves in, but they refused, so they became fugitives sought by Interpol. All or most of the ex-prisoners were at a loss, only knowing Japanese and not having travelled abroad before. The JRA helped Shirosaki settle in Lebanon, but he denied and still denies being a member of the JRA. He did work with a Palestinian guerrilla group, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine ( http://pflp.ps/english/ ), enabling him stay in Lebanon without a passport.

A new group, the Anti-Imperialist International Brigade, claimed attacks May 14, 1986 against the American, Canadian, and Japanese embassies in Jakarta, Indonesia, saying the attacks were related to the G7 meeting in Tokyo at the time. Two improvised mortars were fired at the US embassy from a nearby national park, two rockets were fired at the Japanese embassy from a hotel room, and three people were injured when a car exploded in front of the Canadian embassy. Seven weeks later Japan blamed the JRA and said one fingerprint belonging to Shirosaki was found in the hotel room. Shirosaki says he ignored the new charges because he was in Lebanon the whole time and was not a member of either group. He says he wasn't aware fingerprints could be easily faked. May 15, 1990 a sealed US indictment accused him of “assault with intent to murder individuals on embassy grounds, attempted murder of individuals on embassy grounds, willfully and maliciously attempting to harm a US embassy, willfully and maliciously attempting to murder embassy personnel with premeditation and malice, and committing a violent attack against internationally protected US government personnel” (September 23, 1996 US DOJ press release).

In the 90's, the Oslo Accords made it difficult for Shirosaki to stay in Lebanon, so he hid his identity and moved to South Asia. Italy began searching for him in December 1987, over an AIIB attack on the US embassy in Rome, relating to an economic summit in Venice.

The NSA found Shirosaki by tracing a phone call and he was arrested by the Nepalese police in Kathmandu, September 21, 1996 and extradited to the US. There was a 15 day trial during which he did not testify. He was convicted of all charges and sentenced to a total of 30 years in prison. February 11, 2007 he was transferred from a prison in Texas to a Communication Management Unit in Indiana, so people on the outside lost contact with him for about two weeks, and the purpose of a CMU is to isolate prisoners. He says his mail was maliciously tampered with more recently. In Indiana Shirosaki developed severe eye problems. In prison he met other political prisoners, including members of the recently released Cuban 5. January 16th, he was released early for good behavior, and transferred for deportation, probably to an immigration facility in Louisiana. He could challenge the deportation order. The Tokyo Metropolitan Police plan to re-arrest him if he returns and he will be charged with attacking the Japanese embassy in the 1986 Jakarta attack. In April 2001, Fusako Shigenobu, a JRA leader imprisoned in Japan, said the group was disbanded, and the US removed it from a list of active terrorist groups, but the Japanese government thinks it still exists in some form.

Some sources:





A political prisoner support group in Chapel Hill: http://prisonbooks.info/


Who split from whom in the Japanese left: http://broadleft.org/jp.htm

Friday, December 12, 2014

Bill of Rights Day

The Durham City Council will issue its annual Human Rights and Bill of Rights Proclamation at its regular Monday meeting, which happens to fall on Bill of Rights Day (December 15th) this year.  This proclamation was a campaign by the Durham Bill of Rights Defense Committee and other groups several years ago, when the Bill of Rights was being undermined on a national level by Bush-Cheney and immigrant rights were more a major issue in North Carolina.  Obama was supposedly going to bring in hope and change, but the attacks on the Bill of Rights and human rights continue, most recently demonstrated by the CIA torture revelations ( http://www.bordc.org/blog/december-week-action-challenges-cia-and-nsa-crimes ).

Human Rights Day was December 10th and marks the UN Declaration of Universal Human Rights in 1948 ( http://www.un.org/en/events/humanrightsday/ ).    

This item from an activist calendar lists some other Bill of Rights Day commemorations in the Triangle:

Annual Commemorations on Bill of Rights Day, December 15: Reading of Universal Declaration of Human Rights by Montessori School of Raleigh Students, followed by remarks of Dan Figgins on provisions of UDHR and Bill of Rights, 10 AM, State Capitol Building, 1 E Edenton St, Raleigh. Sponsored by Human Rights Coalition of NC (919-834-4478).  Proclamations from Chair of Orange County Commissioners, Chapel Hill Mayor, and Carrboro Mayor, followed by reading of first 10 Amendments of US Constitution, 12 Noon, Peace and Justice Plaza (corner of East Franklin and Henderson Sts), Chapel Hill. Sponsored by Orange County Bill of Rights Defense Committee and Orange County Peace Coalition (919-942-2535; 919-918-3432).

The Durham City Council will also issue a Safe Drinking Water Act Proclamation Monday.  

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

STN statement - NC's connections to CIA torture

North Carolina Stop Torture Now
Media Advisory
Senate Intelligence Releases Portions of Landmark Torture Report; Will North Carolina’s Role in Torture Be Addressed?
December 9, 2014

North Carolina Stop Torture Now welcomes today’s release of the historic report on CIA torture by the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee. The report validates what human rights investigators and journalists have demonstrated for a decade: the CIA conducted a years-long, illegal, and immoral program of torture that has cost our nation terribly in lost credibility, the enmity of millions around the world, and the undermining of our democracy.

The report has special significance in the Tar Heel state for two reasons. First, Senator Richard Burr is poised to become Chair of the committee in January. Sen. Burr voted to release the report, but at the same time signaled his intention to attack its conclusions. Second, North Carolina is deeply involved in the human rights abuses described in the report (details below).

It is not only the obligation of the federal government to commit to transparency and accountability for torture, but our state and its political subdivisions are also required to provide facts and details about torture and to accept responsibility for human rights violations,” said Prof. Deborah Weissman, UNC School of Law. “The Convention Against Torture and other treaties oblige us to uncover and take responsibility for our state’s role in the systematic torture of human beings, now confirmed by the Senate report.”

In addition to grassroots activists, prominent North Carolinians have been calling for torture transparency. More than 190 faith leaders wrote to Sen. Richard Burr in 2013, calling on him to support release of the Senate torture report. In addition, over 1,200 North Carolinians have called for an inquiry on North Carolina’s role in torture.

North Carolina and CIA-Directed Torture

Although the report’s executive summary is coming out, North Carolina’s connections to torture may be buried in the body of the report itself. A large volume of evidence has been compiled by journalists and human rights investigators:

North Carolina has been extensively involved in torture in contravention to state, federal, and international law, particularly by sustaining key aviation infrastructure for extraordinary rendition at our public airports. The Johnston County Airport has hosted Aero Contractors since 1979, and Aero remains the airport’s largest tenant. In 2005, the New York Times exposed Aero as “a major domestic hub of the Central Intelligence Agency’s secret air service.” Aero-operated craft secretly flew detainees to torture chambers in Jordan, Egypt, Syria, Afghanistan, Morocco, and Libya. They also repeatedly visited the CIA black sites in Poland and Romania where torture was performed directly by U.S. officials. Documentation was supplied to public officials and the media in this 2012 report.

NC-based planes and crews played key roles in the CIA rendition program. One of the planes operated by Aero (N379P) was a Gulfstream V jet nicknamed the “Guantanamo Express.” For a critical period during the height of the rendition program, Aero also operated a Boeing business jet (N313P) from a hangar it built at the Global TransPark in Kinston. Together, these two aircraft conducted dozens of missions in which incapacitated detainees were taken secretly to prisons where they were held indefinitely and without access to lawyers, family, or the Red Cross. There, they were interrogated using torture. Highly skilled pilots and crews operated and maintained these aircraft, likely with full knowledge they were working for the CIA. The names of several of the pilots have been in the public record for many years.

Many of the detainees transported to torture by Aero were clearly innocent, were never given due process, and were profoundly damaged. Those who survived still suffer deeply. This includes Khaled el-Masri, a German citizen of Lebanese descent; Abou ElKassim Britel, an Italian citizen of Moroccan descent; Binyam Mohamed, a UK legal resident of Ethiopian descent; Khaled al-Maqtari, a Saudi national detained in Iraq; and many more. These men were subjected to brutal treatment. They were strung up in painful stress positions for long periods and endured vicious beatings including to their genitals and torso. They suffered prolonged detention in complete darkness, or were bombarded with blasting sounds. So far, human rights investigators have documented that over 135 persons were subjected to extraordinary rendition. Over 30 of these people – and probably many more – were rendered on flights originating at Smithfield or Kinston, NC, as documented by flight logs and other data here.


Since 2005, concerned citizens have repeatedly contacted North Carolina’s elected officials with information about the state’s role in torture. With the release of the Senate Intelligence report on torture, there can be no excuse for public officials to refuse to address responsibility and accountability for North Carolina’s role in such serious human rights violations.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Stop Torture Now vigil Saturday

NC Stop Torture Now ( www.ncstoptorturenow.org ) will hold a short vigil at the Johnston County Airport, home base for torture taxi and CIA front company Aero Contractors, Ltd, this Saturday (the 27th) at 9:30am.  They are pushing for the release of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence's report on the treatment of CIA detainees before Congress recesses.  Aero Contractors is allegedly mentioned by name in the report.  Participants should wear orange and bring signs to the new terminal, at 3149 Swift Creek Road in Smithfield.

STN adopted Swift Creek Road through the NC Adopt-a-Highway program and will pick up trash after the event.  Anyone age 12 or over is welcome to participate (but kids age 12-17 have to be supervised by an adult).        

Monday, September 22, 2014

Report back from the people's climate vigil in Chapel Hill

I saw about 80-100 people at the vigil at Peace and Freedom Plaza in Chapel Hill. It was just across Franklin Street from UNC, but it looked like the crowd was mostly from the community (though it was almost all white), with a range of ages.  Solarize Chapel Hill (solarizechapelhill.org) had a table offering a free residential or business solar assessment (but only for Orange County locations) and information about financing and how fast solar would pay for itself.  There will be a NC Conference on Religion and Climate Change Monday, October 13, 10am-3pm at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Raleigh, on "the moral duty to take care of creation" (RSVP www.eventjoy.com/e/creationcare , contact info is northcarolinacreationcare at gmail). I might have missed some other flyers.  The founder of UNC Freedom Club (uncfc.web.unc.edu , also on Facebook and Twitter) spoke and gave out some literature.  When things are looking bleak, I often wonder if human civilization and nature in general are fundamentally incompatible (also emerging technologies versus human life), and major changes are definitely needed, but this seems to be anti-industrial anarchism I can't agree with, being more optimistic about technology and a Marxist.  

Trekking around the UNC campus afterward I found flyers for a Spartacist League "Meet the Marxists" event September 18th.  They probably do this every fall, but I doubt there is a club at UNC.  FRSO (the one that publishes Fight Back!) seems to be gone, leaving anarchists as the only trend left of liberals organized at UNC.  I don't think there is even a Green group.  An SDS zine came out in the spring, promising activity this semester, and advocacy groups like Student Action with Workers and SEAC are still around, but not many political groups.