Sunday, October 04, 2015

Some actions and events in October

October 7th is the anniversary of the beginning of the war in Afghanistan.  I haven't heard of any actions planned around here, but has a global campaign to flood social media platforms with opposition at 12pm on the 7th (see ). 

There is still the anti-war vigil ever Friday, 5-6pm at Village Plaza (corner of East Franklin Street and Elliot Road) in Chapel Hill.  A vigil to Stop the Arms Race and Build a Culture of Peace is every first Wednesday of the month, 12-1pm at the Century Post Office on Fayetteville Street in Raleigh.  There is also a vigil against the death penalty every Monday, 5-6pm outside Central Prison (corner of Hunt Drive and Western Boulevard) in Raleigh. 

The NC Big Sweep trash cleanups were supposed to be this weekend, but because there has been more than a week of wet weather, and it is still raining, many cleanups have been moved to next weekend.  Check with your local waterway conservation group for details.  For Durham, see:

Durham's first annual Monarch Festival will be held at Sandy Creek Park (3510 Sandy Creek Drive, near South Square, but there will be shuttles from overflow parking) Saturday, October 10th 12-4pm.  Monarch butterflies link much of North America together, migrating from Canada and the USA to winter in a small area of mountain forest in Mexico, and in recent years their numbers have declined.  Several local and state organizations and businesses organized the festival to celebrate this famous butterfly, and there will be a parade, talks, music, a butterfly release, a performance by Danza Los viejitos de Michoacán and more.  Mayor Bell, Mexican Cónsul Javier Díaz de Leon, Canadian Business Association of North Carolina President Paul Meade, and NC Senator Mike Woodward will speak.  Sandy Creek Park, on a tributary of New Hope Creek in western Durham, is certified monarch habitat, with the milkweed they need as caterpillars, flowers to provide nectar for the butterflies, and shelter.  Everyone will get plants or seeds to start creating their own monarch-friendly habitat.  See:  

October 10th is the 20th anniversary of the Million Man March in Washington, DC and there will be a demonstration with the theme "Justice or Else!"  International ANSWER is organizing for the event:
[ There will be a presentation "Justice or Else: 20th Year Anniversary of the Million Man March" Tuesday, October 13th 7-9pm at the Stanford L Warren Branch Library in Durham.  From the Library website: 

October 10, 2015 marks the 20th year anniversary when 1-million black men gathered in Washington, DC at the behest of Minister Louis Farrakhan "to declare their right to justice to atone for their failure as men and to accept responsibility as the family head." Since then "the country finds itself embroiled in case after case of black men dying while in police custody or facing what some view as an unfair shake by the justice system." Join Durham NOI student minister Amon Muhammad for a discussion on the history and contemporary legacy of the March.]

The biannual Friends of the Durham Library book sale is coming up October 16th-18th and is a good place to find new and old books and other media at a cheap price, and it benefits the Durham County Library ( ).  There are also often classics of Marxism-Leninism in the philosophy and history sections. 

Monclair State University Professor Grover Furr has a new book out, on the contentious Katyn Forest Massacre during WWII, but for now it is only available in French (though he also wants people to get the word out to their local academic libraries).  The publisher's website is: and it can be bought on Amazon's French and Spanish sites, , and .

November 1st is the deadline to nominate trees for Durham's Finest Trees, recognizing trees for size, historical importance, or other significance. Winners will be announced at an Arbor Day event next March.  I can think of several trees to nominate.  I heard about this through Greener Durham's page on Facebook, and the announcement is at:  

I don't think there is very much public awareness of a catastrophe that is slowly unfolding in NC and many other states.  The non-native emerald ash borer crossed the border from Virginia in 2013 and a quarantine on ash wood and trees was imposed for a few counties, but in early September the entire state was quarantined, because the beetle has been detected in several places, including Orange, Durham, and Wake counties.  It shouldn't have been able to spread so much if the quarantines worked, because the beetle only spreads a few miles a year under its own power.  Based on what has happened where it arrived earlier, this beetle is going to kill just about every ash tree, and apparently it attacks fringetrees as well.  Regular insecticide treatments are the only way to save individual trees.  A lot of people might not know what an ash is, but these are common and economically important trees, and it looks like they are going to vanish, for at least some time, which is going to cause problems for us and an even greater catastrophe for native species that depend on ash or fringetrees.  For example, the familiar (?) tiger swallowtail butterfly eats ash as a caterpillar, though it has options.  It is thought that the borer reached the USA in packing materials, so is this a disaster caused by sending industry to East Asia?  I might post an article about this, but for general information, see:

Election Day is Tuesday, November 3rd, with the mayor and city council up for election, offices that people might not hear about very often, but with a lot of influence over how we live and some influence on higher levels of government. 

[There is a local primary election October 6th.  For information see the State Board of Elections website: or the Durham Board of Elections: ]

From a local peace and justice calendar:  Disgraced: One Dangerous Dinner Party: Pulitzer prize-winning play by Ayad Akhtar "explores Muslim-American citizens' sense of self-identity and the Islamophobia that has strained our society's fabric at its seams." Sept 16 -Oct 4, Paul Green Theatre, Country Club Rd at corner of Paul Green Dr, Chapel Hill. Playmakers Repertory Company,, 919-962-7529. Submitted by Charles M. Jones Peace and Justice Committee

Congratulations to the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, a national peace and justice organization that has been around for 100 years this fall, while the Triangle branch is 80 years old!  [See for more information, including an anniversary celebration the evening of November 6th in Chapel Hill.  WILPF is organized as a women's group, but there are also male members.  Their Wake-Up Call program with peace & freedom news is on WCOM 103.5 FM every Wednesday from 5-6pm and streamed at , and is now also on The Peoples Channel every Thursday at 10pm.] 

The fundraising for new editions of Barefoot Gen (see earlier post) succeeded.  The Farm Labor Organizing Committee is fundraising for a youth program in Ohio ( )

Thursday, August 13, 2015

8/15 rally and symposium for peace in Korea

The events this Saturday are in the Washington, DC area, but you can always contact your members of Congress ( ) and local newspaper editors, and there is the deal with Iran to lobby about.  From the organizers:

2015 marks the 70th anniversary of Korea’s liberation from the Japanese colonialism, and also the 70th anniversary of Korea’s division into two occupying zones that led to a tragic war and divided states, with seemingly perpetual animosities and conflicts.

2015 is also the 62nd anniversary of the signing of the Korean War Armistice, an armistice that has NOT been replaced with a permanent peace treaty that will officially end the Korean War. Without a peace treaty in place, occasional military confrontations, spiraling arms race, collective suspicions and hostilities ensue without an end in sight.

As concerned citizens, we call for the signing of a peace treaty to end the Korean War as a prerequisite first step, and urge the stakeholders and policymakers to engage in negotiations aimed at reduction of tensions that will pave a way for a lasting peace settlement in the Korean Peninsula that includes normalization of relations, nuclear disarmament and conventional arms reduction.
Plan of Actions:
  • Letter-writing campaign to elected officials (local, state, national level -- July 20 - August 16)
  • Korea Peace Advocacy Day on July 24 (visits to the Congress)
  • Rally on July 26, 5 PM at the Korean War Veterans Memorial in DC
  • Rally on August 15, 1 PM at the White House
  • Symposium on August 15, 5 PM at the William Cho Peace Center: 3883 Plaza Drive, Fairfax, Virginia
Initiators: National Association of Korean Americans (NAKA), Coalition of Korean Americans (CKA)

Endorsers (As of 7/20/15): Action for One Korea (AOK), ANSWER, Good Friends USA, National Campaign to End the Korean War, Veterans for Peace/Korea Peace Campaign, DC Methodist Church, Ham Seok-hun Society of DC, LA Sasase, Storrs Korean Church UCC, Washington D.C. Korean Citizens Academy

Contact: nakaadvocacy at! gmail , info at heemang dot! org

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

AWTW on Hiroshima and Nagasaki

This article is from the A World to Win News Service ( ):

- Hiroshima and Nagasaki: The world's worst war crime and the countries willing to do it again
- From John Hersey’s


Hiroshima and Nagasaki: The world's worst war crime and the countries willing to do it again

3 August 2015. A World to Win News Service. "That fateful summer, 8:15. The roar of a B-29 breaks the morning calm. A parachute opens in the blue sky. Then suddenly, a flash, an enormous blast – silence – hell on earth.

"The eyes of young girls watching the parachute melted. Their faces became giant charred blisters. The skin of people seeking help dangled from their fingernails. Their hair stood on end. Their clothes were ripped to shreds. People trapped in houses toppled by the blast were burned alive. Others died when their eyes and internal organs burst from their bodies. Hiroshima was a hell where those who somehow survived envied the dead." (From the 6 August 2007 memorial statement by Hiroshima mayor Tadatoshi Akiba, in a plea to rid the world of all nuclear weapons)

"A woman who covered her eyes from the flash lowered her hands to find the skin of her face had melted into her palms... Hundreds of field workers and others staggered by, moaning and crying. Some were missing body parts, and others were so badly burned that even though they were naked, Yoshida couldn't tell if they were men or women. He saw one person whose eyeballs hung down from his face, the sockets empty." (From Nagasaki, Life After Nuclear War, by Susan Southard, Viking, 2015)

Seventy years ago the United States became the first and only country to ever use nuclear weapons.

On 6 August 1945, an American bomber dropped a nuclear device over a hospital in Hiroshima, a Japanese city with little military significance. The bomb was attached to a parachute and set to go off high in the air to maximize the number of people who would be exposed to lethal radiation. About 140,000 city residents were killed or so badly injured that died within a few months.

When informed about the blast he had ordered, U.S. President Harry Truman gleefully exclaimed, "This is the greatest thing in history." To show just how "great" the atomic bomb was, three days later, on 9 August, the U.S. dropped another one, destroying the city of Nagasaki and killing another 70,000 people. Many years of suffering from cancer and other ills caused by radiation poisoning lay ahead for the survivors and their children. Susan Southard's new book, based on interviews with survivors over the last decade, recounts how some were so monstrously disfigured that children would run away from them. The fact that about 192,000 victims are still alive shows that this is not ancient history.

The U.S. occupied Japan after the war ended shortly after, and suppressed news articles recounting the horror that had occurred. Instead, newspapers like the New York Times parroted official lies, denying the existence of radiation sickness and downplaying the seriousness and special nature of the devastation caused by atomic weapons – which the U.S. government was then considering using on the USSR. The general in charge of developing the atom bomb told Congress that death by radiation was "a very pleasant way to die."

The U.S. unleashed the nuclear era in the closing days of the Second World War. Germany had already surrendered. Japan’s economy had been destroyed and its capital fire-bombed into ashes; its military had been dealt decisive defeats. Many historians believe that Japan would have surrendered without the atomic bombing. The purpose of the bombing was not just to make sure that the U.S. and its allies won the war, but even more, to make sure that the U.S. and the U.S. alone would benefit from Japan’s surrender.

The U.S. was determined not to let the Soviet Union prevent it from stepping into Japan’s shoes as the top colonial power in Asia. The USSR was still a socialist country then, although a decade later it would take a different path. It had been allied with the U.S. during the war against Germany and Japan, but even before the war was over the U.S. was baring its teeth to the USSR and setting out to dominate much of the world.

The USSR is no more but the U.S. and other countries still threaten the world with nuclear holocaust. The U.S., UK, France, Russia, China, India, Pakistan, North Korea and Israel hold thousands of nuclear warheads and the missiles, aircraft and submarines to use them. (Note: This list does not include Iran, despite the hysteria stoked by Truman's successor as U.S. president, Barack Obama.)

When Obama was campaigning for president in 2008, he promised he would seek nuclear disarmament. The committee that awarded him the Nobel Peace Prize the following year cited the agreement for a "nuclear-free world" he signed with Russia. (If Obama deserved the Nobel Peace Prize for this, so did Russian president Vladimir Putin.)

Yet the treaty sought no such thing. It permitted the two sides to each retain 1,550 strategic nuclear weapons deployed and ready to go, not counting those in storage. (Russia already had less than that). Many are vastly more powerful than the bombs that devastated Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The thousands of tactical nuclear weapons not covered by the treaty are, in some ways, even more dangerous than the strategic ones, because their use is envisioned in ordinary official military doctrine, and once a nuclear exchange begins, no one can say how it will end. A nuclear world war is not now on the horizon, as it was at several points during the height of U.S.-Soviet contention for world domination in the 1960s through the 1980s, but still, the only reason to have nukes is to be able to use them.

Although the arms race between the U.S. and Russia today is no longer about an ever-accumulating stockpile of nuclear bombs, Omaba has launched a trillion-dollar campaign to modernize his country's atomic bomb-making facilities, produce new or refurbished missiles, submarines and bombers to use them, and update existing warheads. Russia is reported to be updating its nuclear delivery vehicles. Similar efforts are being carried out by the UK (the modernisation of its nuclear arsenal and a new fleet of Trident ballistic missile submarines) and France (new air to ground nuclear-tipped missiles). Rather than working to consign nuclear weapons to the past, these programmes are meant to ensure their usability far into the future.

When asked to explain Obama's apparent turn-around, an advisor pointed to "Putin's invasion of Ukraine." (The New York Times, 21 September 2014). This is a perfect example of the Cold War posture when each of the two imperialist superpowers was ready to risk destroying the world rather than lose the contest to run it. The implicit threat to use nuclear weapons to "protect" Ukraine – in other words, to keep Russia from challenging U.S. geo-political interests – is completely insane from the viewpoint of the interests of the population of Ukraine and the world.

As for combating Islamist terrorism, the current pretext for U.S. and European military intervention in the Middle East, if terrorism is defined as the killing of innocent civilians for a political purpose, then there has seldom been a terrorist act more horrendous in its consequences or on a bigger scale than the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
 end item-

From John Hersey’s Hiroshima

3 August 2015. A World to Win News Service. The American novelist and journalist John Hersey arrived in Hiroshima after the 6 August 1945 bombing, and returned again the following year to conduct interviews for a magazine article and later a book that helped open the eyes of several generations. It was banned in Japan under the American occupation. The following excerpts from his Hiroshima (Penguin Classics, 2001) focus on the accounts told by two survivors.
At exactly 8.15 am, on 6 August 1945, Japanese time, at the moment when the atomic bomb flashed above Hiroshima, Toshiko Sasaki, a clerk in the personnel department of the East Asia Tin Works, had just sat down at her place in the plant office and was turning her head to speak to the girl at the next desk.

At that same moment, Dr Masakazu Fujii was settling down cross-legged to read his newspaper on the porch of his private hospital, overhanging one of the seven deltaic rivers which divide Hiroshima. Hatsuyo Nakamura, a tailor’s widow, stood by the window of her kitchen, watching a neighbour tearing down his house because it lay in the path of an air-raid-defence fire lane. Father Wilhelm Kleinsorge, a German priest of the Society of Jesus, reclined in his underwear on a cot on the top floor of his order's three-story mission house, reading a Jesuit magazine. Dr Terufumi Sasaki, a young member of the surgical staff of the city’s large, modern Red Cross Hospital (no relation to Miss Sasaki), walked along one of the hospital corridors with a blood specimen in his hand. And the Reverend Kiyoshi Tanimoto, pastor of the Hiroshima Methodist Church, paused at the door of a rich man’s house in Koi, the city’s western suburb, and prepared to unload a
handcart full of things he had evacuated from town in fear of the massive B-29 raid which everyone expected Hiroshima to suffer.

A hundred thousand people were killed by the atomic bomb, and these six were among the survivors. Later, they wondered why they lived when so many others died. Each of them counted many small items of chance or volition – a step taken in time, a decision to go indoors, catching one street-car instead of the next – that spared him. And afterwards each knew that, in the act of survival, he had lived a dozen lives and had seen more death than he ever thought he would see.

At the time, none of them knew anything. Then a tremendous flash of light cut across the sky. Reverend Tanimoto has a distinct recollection that it travelled from east to west, from the city toward the hills. It seemed a sheet of sun. Both he and his friend Mr Matsuo reacted in terror – they had time to react for they were 3,500 yards, or two miles, from the centre of the explosion. Matsuo dashed up the front steps into the house and dived among the bedrolls and buried himself there. Reverend Tanimoto took four or five steps and threw himself between two big rocks in the garden. He bellied up hard against one of them. As his face was against the stone, he did not see what happened. He felt a sudden pressure, and then splinters and pieces of board and fragments of tile fell on him. He heard no roar. (Almost no one in Hiroshima recalls hearing any noise of the bomb.)

When he dared, Reverend Tanimoto raised his head and saw that the rich man"s house had collapsed. He thought a bomb had fallen directly on it. Such clouds of dust had risen that there was a sort of twilight around. In panic, not thinking for the moment of Matsuo under the ruins, he dashed out into the street. In the street, the first thing he saw was a squad of soldiers who had been burrowing into the hillside opposite, making one of the thousands of dugouts in which the Japanese apparently intended to resist invasion, hill by hill, life for life. The soldiers were coming out of the hole, where they should have been safe, and blood was running from their heads, chests, and backs. They were silent and dazed. Under what seemed to be a local dust cloud, the day grew darker and darker.

Hatsuyo Nakamura had not had an easy time. Her husband, Isawa, had gone into the army just after the youngest of her three children, Myeko, was born, and she had heard nothing from or of him for a long time, until, on 5 March 1942, she received a seven-word telegram: "Isawa died an honourable death at Singapore." Isawa had been a not particularly prosperous tailor, and his only capital was a Sankoku sewing machine. After his death, Nakamura got out the machine and began to take in piecework herself, and since then had supported the children, but poorly, by sewing.

As Nakamura stood in her kitchen watching her neighbour, everything flashed whiter than any white she had ever seen. She did not notice what happened to the man next door; the reflex of a mother set her in motion toward her children. She had taken a single step (the house was about 1,30 metres from the centre of the explosion) when something picked her up and she seemed to fly into the next room over the raised sleeping platform, pursued by parts of her house.

Timbers fell around her as she landed, and a shower of tiles pummelled her; everything became dark, for she was buried. The debris did not cover her deeply. She rose up and freed herself. She heard a child cry, "Mother, help me!" and saw Myeko, the five-year-old, buried up to her breast and unable to move. As Nakamura started frantically to claw her way toward the child, she could see or hear nothing of her other children...

From the mound, Reverend Tanimoto saw an astonishing panorama. Not just a patch of Koi, as he had expected, but as much of Hiroshima as he could see through the clouded air was giving off a thick, dreadful miasma. Clumps of smoke, near and far, had begun to push up through the general dust. He wondered how such extensive damage could have been dealt out of a silent sky; even a few planes far up would have been audible.

Houses nearby were burning, and when huge drops of water the size of marbles began to fall, he half-thought that they must be coming from the hoses of firemen fighting the blazes. (They were actually drops of condensed moisture falling from the turbulent tower of dust, heat and fission fragments that had already risen miles into the sky above Hiroshima.) Reverend Tanimoto thought of his wife and baby, his church, his home, his parishioners, all of them down in that awful murk. Once more he began to run in fear –toward the city.

Hatsuyo Nakamura, the tailor's widow, having struggled up from under the ruins of her house after the explosion, and seeing Myeko, the youngest of her three children, buried breast-deep and unable to move, crawled across the debris, hauled at timbers and flung tiles aside, in a hurried effort to free the child. Then, from what seemed to be caverns far below, she heard two small voices crying, "Tasukete! Tasukete! Help! Help!"

She called the names of her 10-year-old son and eight-year-old daughter: "Toshio! Yaeko!" The voices from below answered.

Nakamura abandoned Myeko, who at least could breathe, and in a frenzy made the wreckage fly above the crying voices. The children had been sleeping about three metres apart, but now their voices seemed to come from the same place. Toshio, the boy, apparently had some freedom to move, because she could feel him undermining the pile of wood and tiles as she worked from above. At last she saw his head, and she hastily pulled him out by it. A mosquito net was wound intricately, as if it had been carefully wrapped, around his feet. He said he had been blown right across the room and had been on top of his sister Yaeko under the wreckage. She now said, from underneath, that she could not move, because there was something on her legs. With a bit more digging, Nakamura cleared a hole above the child and began to pull her arm. "Itai! It hurts!" Yaeko cried. Nakamura shouted, "There’s no time now to say whether it hurts or not," and yanked her whimpering
daughter up. Then she freed Myeko. The children were filthy and bruised, but none of them had a single cut or scratch.

Nakamura took the children out into the street. They had nothing on but underpants, and, although the day was very hot, she worried rather confusedly about their being cold, so she went back into the wreckage and burrowed underneath and found a bundle of clothes she had packed for an emergency, and she dressed them in pants, blouses, shoes, padded cotton air-raid helmets called bokuzuki, and even, irrationally, overcoats. The children were silent, except for the five-year-old, Myeko, who kept asking questions: "Why is it night already? Why did our house fall down? What happened?" Nakamura, who did not know what had happened, looked around and saw through the darkness that all the houses in her neighbourhood had collapsed. The house next door, which its owner had been tearing down to make way for a fire lane, was now very thoroughly, if crudely, torn down; its owner, who had been sacrificing his home for the community's safety, lay dead...

After crossing Koi Bridge and Kannon Bridge, having run the whole way, Reverend Tanimoto saw, as he approached the centre, that all the houses had been crushed and many were afire. So impressed was he by this time by the extent of the damage that he ran north two miles to Gion, a suburb in the foothills. At Gion, he bore toward the right bank of the main river, the Ota, and ran down it until he reached fire again. Near a large Shinto shrine, he came to more fire, and as he turned left to get around it, he met, by incredible luck, his wife. She was carrying their infant daughter. Reverend Tanimoto was now so emotionally worn out that nothing could surprise him. He did not embrace his wife; he simply said, "Oh, you are safe." She told him that she had been buried under the parsonage with the baby in her arms. The wreckage had pressed down on her, and the baby had cried. She saw a chink of light and, by reaching up with a hand, she worked the hole bigger,
bit by bit. After about half an hour, she heard the crackling noise of wood burning. At last, the opening was big enough for her to push the baby out, and afterwards she crawled out herself. She said she was now going out to Ushida. Tanimoto said he wanted to see his church and take care of the people of his neighbourhood association. They parted as casually – as bewildered – as they had met.

All day, people poured into Asano Park. Hatsuyo Nakamura and her children were among the first to arrive, and they settled in the bamboo grove near the river. They all felt terribly thirsty, and they drank from the river. At once they were nauseated and began vomiting, and they retched the whole day. Others were also nauseated; they all thought (probably because of the strong odour of ionisation, an "electric smell" given off by the bomb’s fission) that they were sick from a gas the Americans had dropped. When Father Kleinsorge and the other priests came into the park, the Nakamuras were all sick and prostrate. A woman named Iwasaki, who lived in the neighbourhood of the mission and who was sitting near the Nakamuras, got up and asked the priests if she should stay where she was or go with them. Father Kleinsorge said, "I hardly know where the safest place is." She stayed there, and later in the day, though she had no visible wounds or burns, she died.

When Reverend Tanimoto, with his basin still in his hand, reached the park, it was very crowded, and to distinguish the living from the dead was not easy, for most of the people lay still, with their eyes open. To Father Kleinsorge, the silence in the grove by the river, where hundreds of gruesomely wounded suffered together, was one of the most dreadful phenomena of his whole experience. No one wept, much less screamed in pain; no one complained; not even the children cried; very few people even spoke. And when Father Kleinsorge gave water to some whose faces had been almost blotted out by flash burns, they took their share and then raised themselves a little and bowed to him in thanks...

As she dressed on the morning of 20 August, in the home of her sister-in-law in Kabe, not far from Nagatsuka, Nakamura, who had suffered no cuts or burns at all, though she had been rather nauseated, began fixing her hair and noticed, after one stroke, that her comb carried with it a whole handful of hair; the second time, the same thing happened, so she stopped combing at once. But in the next three or four days, her hair kept falling out of its own accord, until she was quite bald. She began living indoors, practically in hiding. On August 26, both she and her younger daughter, Myeko, woke up feeling extremely weak and tired, and they stayed on their bedrolls. Her son and other daughter, who had shared every experience with her during and after the bombing, felt fine. At about the same time, Tanimoto fell suddenly ill with a general malaise, weariness, and feverishness. These four did not realise it, but they were coming down with the strange,
capricious disease which came to be known as radiation sickness...

A year after the bomb was dropped, Toshiko Sasaki was a cripple; Hatsuyou Nakamura was destitute; Father Kleinsorge was back in hospital; Dr Sasaki was incapable of the work he once could do; Dr Fujii had lost the 30-room hospital it took him many years to acquire, and had no prospects of rebuilding it. Reverend Tanimoto's church had been ruined and he no longer had his exceptional vitality. The lives of these six people, who were among the luckiest in Hiroshima, would never be the same...

It would be impossible to say what horrors were embedded in the minds of the children who lived through the day of the bombing in Hiroshima. On the surface, their recollections, months after the disaster, were of an exhilarating adventure. Toshio Nakamura, who was 10 at the time of the bombing, was soon able to talk freely, even gaily, about the experience, and a few weeks before the anniversary he wrote the following matter-of-fact essay for his teacher at Noboricho primary school: "The day before the bomb, I went for a swim. In the morning, I was eating peanuts. I saw a light. I was knocked to little sister's sleeping place. When we were saved, I could only see as far as the tram. My mother and I started to pack our things. The neighbours were walking around burned and bleeding. Hetaya-san told me to run away with her. I said I wanted to wait for my mother. We went to the park. A whirlwind came. At night a gas tank burned and I saw the reflection in
the river. We stayed in the park on night. Next day I went to Taiko bridge and met my girl friends Kikuki and Murakami. They were looking for their mothers. But Kikuki’s mother was wounded and Murakami’s mother, alas was dead."
- end item-

Sunday, August 09, 2015

70th anniversary of the nuclear bombing of Japan

In light of the anniversary of the US use of nuclear weapons against Japanese civilians (in Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, and the less often remembered August 9th bombing of Nagasaki), here are two campaigns to discourage it from happening again. 

A campaign ( ) is seeking donations to produce a new hardcover edition of a semi autobiographical account of the bombing of Hiroshima, so 4000+ copies can be donated to schools and libraries.  Barefoot Gen (Hadashi no Gen) is a graphic novel in 10 volumes by Keiji Nakazawa depicting life before the atomic bomb and well after.  It also touches on Japanese atrocities, leading to a recent ban in schools in Matsue, Japan ( ).  I haven't read the comic version yet, but I have seen the first movie.  The style is a little cartoonish,  but it is an engrossing movie and the depiction of immediate aftermath of the explosion is horrific.  There is a second movie covering Hiroshima after WWII, but I don't think it has been released in the US, though it has probably been released in the UK and New Zealand. 

Two weeks ago PBS broadcast two documentaries on the nuclear genie we unleashed in the 20th century, The Bomb ( ) and Uranium:  Twisting the Dragon's Tail ( ).  They were interesting, but The Bomb made nuclear weapons less terrifying, with all the footage of nuclear tests and structures withstanding the blasts, and it reduced President Truman's responsibility while putting more blame on Japan.  For another view, see , though The Bomb did admit that Truman allowed Japan to surrender on the condition of retaining the emperor, instead of unconditional surrender.  I was surprised when Uranium suddenly showed a segment of the Barefoot Gen movie showing the immediate effects of the bomb.  I wonder if very many viewers were shocked. 

The US demands that smaller countries not develop nuclear weapons, though our country is the only one so far to have used them to destroy cities, and still threatens other countries, which encourages proliferation, so they don't end up like Iraq and Libya.  The US also aids nuclear proliferation in countries like Israel and India.  Many US politicians want to start a war over Iran's development of peaceful and legal nuclear technology and there has already been covert acts of aggression against Iran by the US and Israel.  Just in time for the anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima on the 6th, leading Senate Democrat Charles Schumer is working to sabotage the deal that might remove a justification for aggression against Iran in the near future.  It might make a statement about the ethics of the Iranian leadership that they haven't developed nuclear weapons, though nuclear powers are threatening them.     

It was foolish for the nuclear powers to build so many nuclear weapons during the Cold War, and there is even less reason to still have more than enough to cause human extinction around today, with many ready for immediate use.  Obama even wants to send billions renovating the US nuclear arsenal, rather than negotiate deep cuts with Russia.  The Republic of the Marshall Islands, a group of islands in the Pacific that the US used for 67 of those nuclear tests shown on The Bomb, is suing the nine nuclear powers for failing to follow the non-proliferation treaty.  There is a petition at

I'm surprised there hasn't been more mention of this anniversary by progressive and anti-imperialist papers and websites in the US. 

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Moral Mondays, TPP protest, and other events

Moral Mondays ongoing

There will be a Moral Monday demonstration today, May 26th, 5-6:30pm at the Bicentennial Mall, across from the General Assembly building (16 West Jones Street, Raleigh).  The focus this week is healthcare and environmental justice, covering the refusal to expand Medicaid in NC, coal ash, fracking, pollution from industrial livestock operations, etc.  There will be civil disobedience training at 3pm at the Davie Street Presbyterian Church (300 East Davie Street, Raleigh).  For more information and to RSVP, see    

There will be a Moral Monday demonstration in Charlotte June 1st, at 7pm at the Little Rock AME Zion Church.      

Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) protest at Rep. Price's Chapel Hill office

There will be a combination of a constituent meeting with Rep. David Price's staff (?) and a protest outside Thursday, May 28th, 4-6pm at 1777 Fordham Boulevard (corner of 15-0501 and Sage Road in Chapel Hill).  People are asked to bring signs.  This is sponsored by the Communication Workers of America, Food and Water Watch, NC AFL-CIO, Witness for Peace, Working America, and constituents.  I also received a alert about this event.  

Panel on US policy and the coup in Ukraine at the Left Forum in New York

US Friends of the Soviet People is hosting a panel with academics and Ukrainians at the annual Left Forum ( May 30th, 5:10-7pm, room 1.105 at John Jay College, 524 West 59th Street (between 10th and 11th avenues in Manhattan).    

Some other local upcoming events from an activist calendar:

Inside Islam: What a Billion Muslims Really Think:  Documentary explores gathered opinions of Muslims in first major opinion poll of its kind taken by Gallup. Film and discussion facilitated by Reverend Thom Belote with guests Imam Mowlid Ali and Mona Dakrouri. 6:30 to 8 PM, Thu, May 28, Community Church of Chapel Hill Unitarian Universalist, 106 Purefoy Rd, corner of Mason Farm Rd. 919-444-1478.

Know Your Rights: Panel of experts: Brennan Aberle, Guildford Co Asst Public Defender; Carolyna Manrique, NC ACLU staff attorney; and James E. Williams, Orange/Chatham Co Public Defender explain rights, how to assert them, and how to ensure they are honored. 1-4 PM, Sat, May 30, Carrboro Century Center, 100 N Greensboro St. Hosted by CHC Young Leaders Movement; co-sponsors: Orange Bias Free Policing Coalition, Chapel Hill-Carrboro NAACP, and Carrboro Police Dept.  919-643-4400

Two Chapel Hill Invitations to Hear President and Senior Rabbi of Jerusalem-based Rabbis for Human Rights:  American-born Israeli Rabbi Arik Ascherman, who has spearheaded protests to defend Palestinians against Israeli settler violence, speaks about his work in Israel and Occupied Palestine. Public talk, 10 AM, Sun, May 31, Kehilla Synagogue, 1200 Mason Farm Rd, and 12:15 - 1:30 PM, Sun, May 31, Church of Reconciliation Fellowship Hall, 110 N Elliott Rd. Opportunity for questions and conversation about current situation in Israel-Palestine.

Hodding Carter and Ferrell Guillory Discuss After Snowden: Privacy, Secrecy, and Security in the Information Age: Carter's essay, "The Press," is one among seven written by prominent legal and political experts who explore the significance of Snowden's leak from multiple angles in this just published book.  Carter has won numerous awards for reporting, worked for the Carter administration, was president of Knight Foundation.  Ferrell Guillory is Professor of the Practice, UNC School of Journalism. 2- 3 PM, Sun, May 31, Flyleaf   Books, 752 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.  info at flyleafbooks period com, 919-942-7373. 

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 (919-782-0667); Raleigh: End the death penalty (PFADP, AI-USA, NC-ACLU), 5 - 6 PM, Mondays, Central Prison, corner of Hunt Dr and Western Blvd (919-779-1912); Chapel Hill: [4:30 - 5:30 PM EST] 5-6 PM EDT, Fridays, corner of Elliott Rd and East Franklin St (919-942-2535)."      

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Greensboro Massacre historical marker being dedicated Sunday

A state highway historical marker for the Greensboro Massacre will be dedicated this Sunday, the 24th, at 4:15pm at the corner of McConnell and Willow roads in Greensboro.  Earlier at 3pm there will be a service at New Light Baptist Church (1105 Willow Road) and there will be a meeting for reflection at the church after the marker is dedicated.  The Greensboro Massacre happened November 3, 1979 when the KKK and neo-Nazis shot at a "Death to the Klan" demonstration organized by the Communist Workers' Party, killing 5 people and injuring others.  The CWP was a Maoist party that apparently no longer exists.


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Report from Iranian ship carrying humanitarian aid to Yemen

There Will Be No Saudi Inspection Of This Ship! - A Message from Caleb
Maupin onboard the “Iran Shahed” in the Gulf of Aden

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which is mercilessly slaughtering people
in Yemen, has absolutely no right to inspect this vessel. Neither does
the United States of America or Israel. The Iranian government has
made that absolutely clear, and all of us in the delegation of peace
activists from Germany, France, and the United States absolutely agree
with this decision.

An inspection from the United Nations or the International Red
Cross/Red Crescent Society would absolutely be permitted and welcomed.
These are international bodies delegated for such tasks.

However, allowing an inspection of this ship from the Kingdom of Saudi
Arabia would recognize that somehow the people of Yemen are the
property of the Saudis, which they are not. Yemenis are fighting and
dying to assert this fact each day.

The Red Crescent Society of the Islamic Republic of Iran, in agreement
with Yemen, is shipping 2,500 tons of medical supplies on this cargo
vessel. Both Iran and Yemen are sovereign countries. They have the
right to interact peacefully with each other, without interference.
Saudi Arabia has no say in the matter.

The only purpose a Saudi inspection could serve would be to humiliate
the Islamic Republic of Iran, or worse, to create some kind of
provocation or incident. The Saudis could use the inspection of this
vessel to start a scuffle with those onboard, or to plant weapons, or
to issue false reports in the media about what they found onboard.

The Saudi regime, which beheads and tortures people routinely, and is
currently burning the skin of Yemeni children with the chemical weapon
called White Phosphorous, has no business entering this ship.

A Purely Humanitarian Mission

There is no question in my mind about the absolutely humanitarian
nature of this mission. I have personally looked inside the cargo
areas of this ship and seen nothing but humanitarian items like
band-aids, disinfectant, food, and bottled water.

All Iranian cargo ships that pass through the Gulf of Aden have two
machine guns mounted on the bridge, as a mechanism for self-defense
from pirates or terrorists which frequent this dangerous area.
However, because this is a special humanitarian mission these machine
guns, which are on every Iranian cargo ship, were removed.

The emblem of the Red Crescent Society is prominently displayed
throughout the ship, as are the Iranian and Yemeni flags.

I have spoken at length with the Red Crescent volunteers (we have
plenty of time to socialize). They have told me about their previous
international operations with the Red Crescent Society, traveling
across the world to help those in need.

The Iranian Red Crescent Society, like all organizations which are
affiliated to the International Red Cross/Red Crescent Society in
Geneva, follows seven guiding principles of work. Among them are
non-involvement in military operations, non-partisan delivery of aid,
and volunteerism.

The Iranians would welcome the United Nations or the International Red
Cross/Red Cresent to inspect this ship. But the criminal Saudi regime,
and its US and Israeli allies are simply not welcome aboard.

If we have no interference, we will reach Hodiedah on Thursday, and
deliver our 2,500 tons of supplies to the Yemeni people. We have
recently been informed that the Saudis have already bombed the port of
Hodiedah in anticipation of our arrival.

Let The Hungry Children of Yemen Live!

This Illegal, Immoral Blockade Must End!

Don’t Block The Rescue Boat!

(I ask my friends in the United States and elsewhere to please forward
and post this message as widely as possible. Send it to the press, put
it on social media, repost it anywhere you want. My internet access
onboard is very limited, so PLEASE help spread the word about our
humanitarian mission.)