Monday, October 01, 2018

The Women's March on the Pentagon, Circle K pickets, and other fall events and anniversaries

This calendar lists mostly local events of general left interest and cultural events, along with historical anniversaries.  Check back for items added after this is initially posted. 

ReBuild NC

I don't think Hurricane Florence caused much damage in the Triangle (though much of Jordan Lake State Recreation Area is still closed due to flooding, but this is artificial flooding, to reduce flooding downstream on the Cape Fear River), but for assistance with recovery from Florence, or earlier Hurricane Matthew, or to donate to recovery efforts, one site to visit is:

UNC seeks input on what to do with Silent Sam

Send ideas to uncmonument at unc period edu (with the caution that the emails received will be classified as public records, though I'm not sure how easy it would be for the media, etc. to access them).  UNC - Chapel Hill's leadership has to offer a proposal to UNC President Margaret Spellings and the Board of Governors by November 15th ( ). 

The Durham City - County Committee on Confederate Monuments and Memorials will also release its recommendations in November. 

Fort Bragg's 100th anniversary

NPR is marking the 1918 founding of this major base for imperialist adventures abroad, from the Caribbean to Asia ( ).  It was renamed from Camp to Fort Bragg as a permanent Army base September 30, 1922.  Apparently it was named for NC native Braxton Bragg, based on his role as an artillery officer in the Mexican - American War, rather than his generally poorly-rated leadership as a Confederate general.  In another example of militarism accidentally serving conservation, the vast military base preserves endangered species such as the red-cockaded woodpecker and St Francis' satyr butterfly, along with now rare longleaf pine-dominated habitats and historical sites, although if there were a major war, the whole area would probably be one of the first places turned into a desolate if not uninhabitable moonscape, and it was military base expansion that killed the last Xerces blue butterflies in California around 1943. 

Library booksales

The Friends of the Durham Library has sales October 27th (10am - 12pm is restricted to members, and 12 - 4pm is open for all) and 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 ( ). 

The Friends of the Chapel Hill Public Library has 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 ( ). 

The Wake County Public Libraries' Annual Book Sale for 2019 will be at the State Fairgrounds around May. 

Plant sales

This calendar was put together too late to include the NC Botanical Garden's Fall Plant and Book Sale September 28 -29, but there are others in October.

UNC - Charlotte Botanical Gardens' Fall Plant Sale will be October 4 - 6 (October 4th is a preview sale for members, 12 - 3pm, while the sales October 5 - 6th are open to the public, 9am - 3pm) at 9090 Carver Road, Charlotte ( ).

Winghaven Gardens' Fall Plant Sale will be October 3 - 6 (October 3rd is a preview sale for members, 9am - 5pm, and the sales October 4 - 6 will be 9am - 5pm) at 248 Ridgewood Avenue, Charlotte ( ).

The Paul J Ciener Botanical Garden's Fall Plant Sale will be October 6th, 8am - 12pm at 215 South Main Street, Kernersville ( ).

Studio tours

The 2018 Orange County Studio Tour will be November 3 - 4 and 10 - 11:

The 5th Durham Pottery Tour will be November 10 (10am - 5pm) and Novenber 11 (12 - 5pm):

The Democratic People's Republic of Korea was founded 70 years ago, September 9, 1948 (South Korea was founded in May 1948). 

October 1st is China's National Day, marking the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, after the Kuomingtang was defeated on the mainland.  According to Wikipedia, the PRC was founded September 21st, but October 1st marks the ceremonial founding at Tiananmen Square, Beijing.

The most recent referendum on Catalonian independence from Spain was October 1st last year, and was followed by Spanish government and rightist repression against Catalonian self-determination.  There will be a pro-independence demonstration today, October 1, 2018. 

There will be events to mark the 35th anniversary of the Triangle Land Conservancy in early October:

No Torture Interfaith Prayer Vigil in Johnston County

There will be a vigil outside the Johnston County Courthouse (212 East Market Street, Smithfield) Monday, October 1st 4:30 - 5:30pm, to remember the victims of the government's rendition and torture programs, many carried on Aero Contractors' jets, based at the Johnston County Airport, with connections to the Johnston County and State governments.  The North Carolina Commission of Inquiry on Torture ( released its report last Thursday with events in Raleigh and Greensboro.  At 6pm Monday the report will be hand-delivered to the Johnston County Commissioners, responsible for the Johnston County Airport, by NCCIT Commissioner and constituent Patty McGaffagan.  The vigil was organized by the North Carolina Council of Churches ( ) and NC Stop Torture Now ( ) For more information  see:

The Tlatelolco Massacre was October 2, 1968 in Mexico City's Plaza de las Tres Culturas; the Mexican government attacked a student demonstration, possibly killing hundreds and arresting more than 1000. 

VUSE boycott picket at Circle-K in Chapel Hill

As part of the Farm Labor Organizing Committee's VUSE boycott, there will be a picket Tuesday, October 2nd 5 - 5:30pm at the Circle-K at the corner of East Franklin Street and Estes Drive.  Participants are asked to bring cell phones to call Circle-K's main office after the event. 

Sputnik 1 (Russian for satellite) was launched into Earth orbit October 4, 1957, becoming the first known artificial satellite.

The Shakori Hills GrassRoots Festival of Music and Dance ( )will be October 4 - 7th in Chatham County.  The Carrboro Music Festival ( )and the IBMA's World of Bluegrass ( ) festival in Raleigh were the weekend of September 28th.

The Cominform (Information Bureau of the Communist and Workers' Parties), a partial replacement for the Comintern, was founded October 5, 1947 (disbanded April 17, 1956). 

Big Sweep NC 2018

There will be a trash cleanups along waterways and shorelines throughout the state in October.  The official date in Durham is October 6th, but cleanups from September to October count as part of Big Sweep and the City/County will pick up piles of trash from roadsides ( ). 

Keep Space for Peace Week is October 6 - 13th ( ; there will be an action in Asheville).

The US and later NATO Afghan War was launched October 7, 2001 (as Operation Enduring Freedom), justified as retaliation for 9/11, al Qaida being based in Afghanistan, but there are arguments that it was launched for fossil fuels and geopolitical goals, as with the Iraq War in March 2003.  Barbara Lee, a Democratic member of the House from California, cast the sole vote against the Authorization for the Use of Military Force Against Terrorists in 2001, presciently arguing that it was too broad, and the Bush - Obama - Trump "War on Terror" continues today, in some cases against groups that didn't exist in 2001 and in ever more countries.   


Chapel Hill's annual Festifall Arts Festival, with some political content, will be along West Franklin Street Sunday, October 7th, 12 - 6pm ( ).

October 8 is Indigenous Peoples' Day.

Argentinean-born Cuban revolutionary leader Che Guevara was captured by the Bolivian military October 8, 1967, with CIA participation, and killed without trial October 9, 1967.

October 10th is Taiwan's National Day, marking the beginning of the Wuchang Rebellion in 1911, part of the Xinhai Revolution or the Chinese Revolution of 1911, which led to the founding of the Republic of China.

October 10 is Party Foundation Day in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, commemorating the 1945 conference in Pyongyang that created a predecessor to today's Korean Workers' Party. 

World Mental Health Day is every October 10th, bringing attention to mental health issues and discrimination against those with mental health problems.  It was first declared in 1992 by the World Federation for Mental Health ( ). 

October 10th the US Fish and Wildlife Service, responding to pressure from the Center for Biological Diversity, proposed listing the Atlantic pigtoe freshwater mussel as threatened in NC and Virginia ( ).  Among other rivers, Atlantic pigtoes are found in both the Cape Fear and Neuse rivers, so they might live, or once have lived, in waterways in Durham and the rest of the Triangle.  This region of the US has the most freshwater mussel species in the world, but 36 species have already been killed off and 75% of the rest are at risk, according to the CBD.  The government of North Carolina does not seem to have much consideration for the endangered dwarf wedgemussel still found south of Raleigh (in the Neuse River basin), where 540 is being extended.  I have heard other examples of the State government intentionally damaging waterways where the mussels live, but I am still researching those allegations.   

The NC State Fair is October 11 - 21 [opening delayed to October 12 due to Hurricane Michael]:

UNC - Chapel Hill's University Day is Friday, October 12th (the building of UNC began October 12, 1793, after being chartered December 11, 1789), and many alumni do volunteer work as part of Tar Heel Service Day, October 12 - 14th:

3rd Annual Durham ReUse Rodeo

Several nonprofits will be on hand to take donations of clothes, books, furniture, appliances, art supplies, baby supplies, etc. and people will also be able to have papers shredded and safely dispose of electronics and plastic film Saturday, October 13th 8am - 2pm at the Durham County Stadium, 750 Stadium Drive ( ).

The People's March in Raleigh

There will be a march Saturday, October 13th at 11:30am from the Raleigh City Plaza to the Bicentennial Mall, followed by a rally until 2:30pm.  This is organized by the Carolina Peace Center ( ) and seems to be mainly a get out the vote (GOTV) exercise, but organizations are welcome to table at the rally.  For more information see:   

Albanian revolutionary, statesman, and First Secretary of the Party of Labor of Albania, Enver Hoxha, was born October 16, 1908 in Gjirokaster, in southern Albania, at the time part of the Ottoman Empire. 

Up to 300 Algerian protesters, peacefully demonstrating against the Algerian War (November 1, 1954 - 1962), were killed by French police in the Paris Massacre of 1961, on October 17th.  The related Charonne Massacre happened February 8, 1962, when the police killed nine trade unionists demonstrating against a French terrorist group.  Only in recent years has France admitted that torture was systematic during the war, and even French citizens were tortured and killed extrajudicially. 

VUSE boycott picket at Circle-K in Durham and TFF meeting

There will be another picket, Thursday, October 18 5:30 - 6pm at the Circle-K at 3301 Guess Road (at the intersection with Carver Street).  There will also be a call-in protest after this picket.

The Triangle Friends of Farmworkers will meet at 7pm in Durham the same evening.   

NATO - backed rebels captured and summarily executed Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi October 20, 2011.  Obama's Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, is said to have enjoyed the video of Gaddafi being captured and apparently stabbed, though there are claims that he died from a gunshot.  Many others captured with Qaddafi were also killed without trial. 

Tens of thousands of demonstrators (maybe 50,000) participated in the March on the Pentagon October 21st, 1967, protesting the Vietnam War.

Women's March on the Pentagon

51 years after the 1967 event, and a 1980 women's march on the Pentagon, there will be workshops and an open mic event Saturday, October 20th and a Women's March on the Pentagon (but male protesters are welcome) Sunday, October 21, with events from 11am - 4pm, along with solidarity events elsewhere in the US (such as in Asheville) and internationally.  The demonstration demands the end of US wars abroad, closure of US bases in other countries, and deep cuts in the military budget, the savings be used to fund social programs here.  This is organized by Cindy Sheehan, whose son was killed during the Iraq War, and many other groups and individuals (see and ).  Jill Stein of the Green Party, Medea Benjamin, Ann Wright, Kevin Zeese, the Raging Grannies, and many others will be there. 

American journalist and revolutionary John Reed was born October 22, 1887 in Portland, Oregon.  He wrote Ten Days That Shook the World, a first-hand account of the Great October Socialist Revolution, and he is one of three Americans honored with burial in the Kremlin Wall Necropolis. 

The Outer Space Treaty, banning the placement of nuclear weapons in space, military activities on the Moon, claims of sovereignty over celestial bodies, etc., came into effect October 10, 1967.

The International Festival of Raleigh will be October 26 - 28:

General election

Candidates for local, State, and Federal will be on ballots in the general election Tuesday, November 6th, 6:30am - 7:30pm.  According to a mailing from the State Board of Elections ( ), the deadline to register to vote (and probably to change your information) is October 12th at 5pm, but early voting is October 17 - November 3, and allows same - day registration.  The regular deadline to request an absentee ballot is October 30th at 5pm.  Sample ballots are available at BOE and sometimes newspaper websites; for example, see the Durham County Board of Elections website at: .       

The NC Green Party, which gained ballot access only this spring, is already fielding four candidates, two running for local office in Mecklenburg and Forsyth counties, one for the NC House of Representatives (in District 66), and one for the US House (in District 13), and is seeking donations and volunteers (see: ).  As always, people can join the NC Green Party, and it is now possible to officially register as a Green with the Board of Elections, but unlike with the Democratic and Republican parties, this is not the same as joining the Green Party. 

The 101st anniversary of the Great October Socialist Revolution in the former Russian Empire is November 7 - 8.

The Communist Party of Albania (later renamed the Party of Labor of Albania) was founded November 8, 1941 through a merger of earlier groups.  At the time Albania was occupied by fascist Italy.   

Soviet revolutionary and statesman Vyachesalv Molotov died November 8, 1986.

November 11 is Armistice Day, marking the truce that (more or less) ended World War I 100 years ago in 1918.  In the USA Armistice Day has became more pro-war Veterans Day.

There will be events November 9 - 11 in Washington, DC to reclaim Armistice Day, including a vigil on the Mall, Veterans Occupy Washington, a Peace Congress:  End US Wars at Home and Abroad, and a March to Reclaim Armistice Day, as well as events in other countries( ). 

Sun Yat-sen, a founder of the Republic of China, created by the Revolution of 1911, was born November 12, 1866. 

There will be a Conference Against US/NATO Military Bases November 16-18th in Dublin, Ireland ( ).

The School of the Americas Watch Border Encuentro 2018 will be the same weekend in Nogales, Arizona and across the border in Nogales, Sonora ( ). 

Albania has two national days, November 28, 1912, when Albania gained independence from the Ottoman Empire, and November 29, 1944, when Albanian partisans drove out the German occupiers.  Subsequently the Albanians were unique in liberating their own country and then helping to liberate neighboring Yugoslavia. 

December 21st is the winter solstice. 

Saturday, September 08, 2018

Pinxterflowers, Duke Energy, and Federal security contractors (and the NC DOT)

© Durham Spark blog
The first and largest South Alston pinxterflower azalea starting to bloom in late April a few years ago ©.

Pinxterflowers (Rhododendron periclymenoides), also called pink azaleas, are deciduous azaleas that have pale reddish purple or pink flowers with some fragrance in late April and are found in the East from New York and Vermont to Illinois and Alabama. Several deciduous azaleas and larger evergreen rhododendrons are native to North Carolina, but grow mostly west and east of the Triangle, while the ornamental evergreen azaleas common in landscaping come from East Asia (pinxterflowers and other natives are sometimes planted, for example there are some native flame azaleas at UNC, but Asian azaleas are far more common). Long ago I noticed a large pinxterflower growing near South Alston Road in southern Durham County, between TW Alexander Drive and Highway 55, just outside of Research Triangle Park. It grew beside a tiny brook that trickles over outcroppings of igneous rock in a wooded area that must have been a farm not many decades ago. Despite the tiny size of the brook, it has basically permanent pools and supports a breeding population of surprisingly large sunfish, as well as numerous crayfish (perhaps attracting queen snakes, which specialize in eating these crustaceans), black damselflies, and other invertebrates. Years ago, if not now, salamander species bred there, but conditions might have changed too much for them now. On the other side of the road an old tobacco barn stood next to a railroad paralleling Alston. There were other flowers in the woodland glade, such as very rare crimson red firepinks (I only know of two areas were they grow naturally, both in Durham), flowering spurge, yellow trout lilies, arrowwood, and painted buckeyes.
That was a few decades ago, and there have been many changes since then, endangering the pinxterflowers and other rare plants, now more widely known among locals. One of the highest hills around, with a commanding view up and down Highway 55, where the farm house was, was blasted away day and night around 10 years ago in early summer (leading to noise complaints to the police from several miles away, on Scott King Road). A County official said that the rock and soil was sold as fill to build the first toll road in North Carolina a few miles east down Hopson Road, and the rest was dumped in the nearby Triangle Brick Company claypit. There were plans for something like apartments or a strip mall on the plain left after the hill was demolished, across from the Triangle Wastewater Treatment Plant, but those fell through. Around two years ago Durham County bought the site for a sludge drying facility, but there are still plans for a residential project on the other (northeast) corner of 55 and TW Alexander Drive, just north. Around the time when the hill was destroyed, South Alston was split and renamed at a railroad crossing (also a copperhead crossing in late September and another place where firepinks grew in the vicinity), creating Solutions Drive to the north and Experiment Drive to the south. Part of nearby Hopson Road became part of new north-south running Louis Stephens Drive, connecting it to TW Alexander and another ridge, from which UNC Hospital can be seen several miles west, though it is more an issue of lack of trees than elevation, was cut through to connect Hopson Road directly to Highway 55. Hopson and Alston have been moved around a few times in this area.

© Durham Spark blog
Looking northwest toward the intersection of NC 55 and TW Alexander Drive, a gravel driveway once led up to the top of a ridge about 340 feet above sea level here, now a flat expanse about 40 feet lower; trash was dumped soon after the hill was destroyed ©.
© Durham Spark blog
Looking north on Experiment Drive, formerly part of South Alston Road, from a gate under the high-tension powerline; the SSA's property can't be seen from here and I think does not even touch this road, but their security harasses people who come here.  The area in the background on the right was clearcut and other trees were cut for the powerline on the left, leading to the new substation.  The land was cleared and graded for additional powerlines and the new Hopson Road looking south, removing more forest ©.

This is a view east along the powerline, looking into Research Triangle Park.  The dead trees were sprayed by Duke Energy in the summer of 2017, when this photo was taken.  There are more powerlines than there used to be, but there has long been an east - west powerline corridor here, and the railroad tracks can be seen.  There used to be a large tobacco barn to the left, probably connecting to the railroad.  The 4 - lane extension of Hopson Road on the right is new, and cuts through a high ridge, from which the UNC Bell Tower, etc, can be seen ©.
In the beginning a high-tension powerline crossed Alston east to west (and paralleled Hopson), but Duke Energy built a new substation where there had been a planted pinewoods at the old farm, and the line connecting it to the main powerline crosses right over the pinxterflower. This might have happened not many years before 2010. The large pinxterflower probably benefitted from the increased sunlight, and younger ones sprouted, but they are now threatened with annihilation by Duke Energy's right of way maintenance procedures. At first Duke Energy or its contractors would spray herbicides, but not next to the brook, saying they could only cut vegetation within feet of waterways, so the azaleas survived. A representative of Duke's right of way maintenance office, based in Greensboro, offered to avoid the large azalea if it was marked and brush cleared around it, which was done, but they cut it to the ground anyway. The large pinxterflower was cut and regrew this way about three or four times (sometime before 2011, in 2011, and in 2013), but last year Duke Energy's policy changed, and they now claim they can use herbicides throughout the site. A Duke Energy official said they use herbicides with trade names Rodeo, Polaris, and Method (one is not used around water, I think Method, but many of their powerlines cross bodies of water of some kind, so it would seem to be rarely used), diluted with 95% water, and sprayed every 3 – 4 years. Some pinxterflowers survived, but the first and largest one might have been killed this time. It still had a few leaves after being sprayed last summer, but this spring it seemed dead, though maybe it was just late to leaf out. The herbicide kills a small tree after being absorbed through the leaves, so woody plants such as buckeyes, which typically lose their leaves early, survived, as well as herbaceous species. Further west down the main powerline only individual saplings were sprayed, and in many cases showy small trees (including a non-native mimosa or silktree) were left alone. I only know of a handful of pinxterflowers growing in five places in the Triangle, and a 6th grew in the woodlot around Meeting of the Waters Creek along South Road, west of UNC's Bell Tower, but it was killed by construction. Surely there are more azaleas around, but they can't be very common or I would come across them more frequently. Pinxterflowers might have been more common at one time, since they are so widely scattered now, usually isolated along headwater streams, despite seemingly only being able to seed over small distances. Many wildflowers have been seen at the now sunny site, including hot pink wood sorrel, evergreen wild ginger, green and gold, false Solomon's seal, pale blue toadflax, yellow rattlesnake weed, white penstemons, and on the hillsides there are young black locust trees filled with white flowers in April, flowering dogwoods (North Carolina's state flower), arrowwood, buckeyes, and there were blue passionflowers. Duke Energy argues that its herbicide use reduces woody growth, allowing herbaceous wildflowers to flourish. It is possible the herbicides only kill trees, but if the azaleas are exterminated, they probably won't come back for a very long time, and wildflowers would grow there even if the trees were only cut. The soil conditions and rural location are important factors in the diversity of wildflowers. The brushy habitat near water supports animals such as indigo buntings (named for the brilliant deep blue males), summer migrants that usually favor beaver ponds.
The main threat is Duke Energy, but the situation is complicated by Federal security contractors working for the Social Security Administration who have appropriated public roads near the pinxterflowers and far from the Federal facility. The SSA's unmarked Second Security Facility, which apparently prints social security cards, is the large building behind a black fence near the corner of Solutions Drive and Louis Stephens Drive (address 3604 Louis Stephens Drive; a search for this address plus social security administration reveals a lot of information), next to the older JMCUSA factory further south. The SSA's security contractors patrol Solutions Drive and Experiment Drive, telling people that they can't use these public roads, and they also drive on nearby roads, though it is an open question whether they would harass someone stopped there ( see and ). Looking more carefully at the sign for Experiment Drive, it doesn't say this is a state-maintained road, but it isn't marked private either (and someone mows the shoulders) and it began as one of the oldest public roads in the area. The azaleas are around a fourth of a mile from the SSA's property and it cannot be seen from that end of the road. The contractors regularly patrol in SUVs, and they might have surveillance equipment on land they don't own (but they seem to surveill the former railroad crossing with their parking lot security cameras, though they can't see the rest of the tracks). The situation seems to have gotten worse over the years and while the contractors, who it is said are heavily armed, shouldn't have police power outside of the SSA's facility and as far as I know they don't get out of their vehicle and follow people away from the road, they are intimidating and they could involve the Durham police or Sheriff's deputies, and I expect that the police would side with the SSA and corporations in a dispute. There are similar situations elsewhere in and around RTP where corporations claim more than they have title to. People used to fish at a pond north of the substation, but were presumably driven off, and it seems that immigrants were living in the tobacco barn before it burned down. I don't know the circumstances, except that they seemed to have beat a hasty retreat. The Social Security Administration might have lobbied for the changes in this part of the old South Alston corridor, and the City of Durham has paid a few thousand dollars for construction and renovations at the SSA's facility over the years (see ). Complaints have been made, though the City and County don't have answers and Congressman David Price's office says go to the General Assembly, which seems to be their default way of answering without answering. One solution is to talk about the situation and for people to go there and make the SSA expend time and money for what it wants to seize from the public. Duke Energy is being lobbied, and a long-term solution is to change herbicide regulations at the State or Federal level.
© Durham Spark blog
The airlock-like double gate leading to the SSA facility's back parking lot, off of Solutions Drive; the field in the foregroumd is where the road used to continue south across the railroad tracks nearby.  Many years ago there were a lot of firepinks on the edge of the woods on the left ©.
© Durham Spark blog
An SSA security contractor Jeep on Experiment Drive; this photo is from a few years ago, so the vehicles look different now ©.

As I worked on this article, a related problem arose. There is a group of pinxterflowers near Crooked Creek on Scott King Road, a few miles west of the above site, on land protected as part of the gamelands around Jordan Lake (owned by the US Army Corps of Engineers and leased to the NC Wildlife Commission). In July someone sprayed an herbicide on both sides of the road (including up into surrounding canopy trees) and under a nearby distribution powerline for roughly one and a half miles along Scott King Road, injuring the pinxterflowers, but they seem to have survived. At first it seemed like saplings along the road were drought-stressed and changing color and dropping their leaves early, but it became clear that they had been sprayed with something. This general spraying did not seem like Duke Energy's work, though they are spraying under the long-distance transmission line nearby, the same line that crosses Experiment Drive and their contractor Asplundh is cutting trees along powerlines in nearby residential areas. About a year ago Duke Energy's distribution line maintenance department cut a pretty old red oak, probably a Spanish/southern red oak, growing under a small powerline nearby, at the corner of Fayetteville Road and NC 751, in front of an abandoned house, since no one was living there to stop them. Sometimes an objection is all it takes to save part of the landscape. That tree used to be a landmark on the way south to Jordan Lake. There are PSNC Energy natural gas pipelines along Scott King Road, but a representative says they only mow their right of ways. There is a fiber optic cable, with MCI signs, but probably owned by a different company now (such as Frontier Communications), and I thought they were the culprit, but the NC DOT admitted to doing the spraying. They also sprayed in several places, mostly at creek crossings, along Highway 54 to the outskirts of Chapel Hill, using Garlon 3A (Triclopyr) and RRSI NIS surfactant, which apparently kills only branches it directly hits. The DOT says the spraying was done over “sight distance issues” and that vegetation problems can return in less than a year after mowing, while using both mechanical cutting and herbicide can control vegetation for three years. They spent almost $30 million dollars statewide from July into August on mechanical cutting, and $2.75 million on herbicide. Many of the places sprayed, including along Scott King Road, are straight and vegetation is not interfering with traffic, while the narrow, uneven shoulders and lack of guardrails at drop offs are much more dangerous. The only potential benefit is that the non-native kudzu surging over the guardrails at Little Creek near Chapel Hill was sprayed, but I'm sure it will be back again next summer. The pinxterflowers are within the 30-foot easement DOT claims on each side of Scott King, so their spraying is probably legal, but the pinxterflowers are at the edge of the protected forest, not within reach of the roadside shoulder, so there was no benefit to the DOT in spraying them. Simply spraying herbicide on everything to maintain a right of way is a wretchedly cheap and indiscriminate, as well as ugly way to maintain an easement (on roadsides often already well littered, revealed even more after the vegetation is dead). Everything was sprayed, from large sweetgum and loblolly pine saplings and the lower limbs of tall trees, to a small winged elm sapling along a fence under a powerline by the American Tobacco Trail, down to sensitive ferns and a clump of goldenrods about to bloom between two yards, as if in spite, and other wildflowers. Of course, not every plant was doused enough to be killed, and it seems like the groundsel bushes have such thick, waxy leaves that they can resist herbicide, but they are relatively common. Possibly the sourwoods also have some degree of resistance. I am thinking about what can be done, but changing national or state herbicide regulations could also prevent the DOT's wanton spraying. 

© Durham Spark blog
A pinxterflower on Scott King Road blooming last April; the peak blooming has passed and the bush is leafing out ©.


Oak cut by Duke Energy at the corner of NC 751 (shown) and Fayetteville Road; its limbs and trunk are on the right ©.

© Durham Spark blog
The dazzling new Genlee powerline tap near the South Alston pinxterflowers, providing electricity for industry and homes (probably mostly in Cary), but built on rich land, now mostly deforested, and threatening Durham's biodiversity.  A sourwood is in the foreground and probably some winged elm saplings closer to the tap.  This brushy habitat supports animals such as indigo buntings ©.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Statement from a recent meeting of the Latin American and Caribbean Regional Conference of the ICMLPO

International Conference of Marxist-Leninist Parties and Organizations – ICMLPO

Political Declaration of the Meeting of the Marxist-Leninist Parties and Organizations of Latin America and the Caribbean

In the course of fulfilling its revolutionary activities and obligations, the Latin American and Caribbean Regional Conference of the International Conference of Marxist-Leninist Parties and Organizations (ICMLPO) has met for the purpose of evaluating the work we are carrying out in each of our countries, analyzing the economic, political and social situation of this region and defining our actions and tasks.

We have had a frank, critical and self-critical debate that has allowed us to deepen our understanding of the political and social phenomena that await a revolutionary solution; and to reinforce the ideological and political unity among our organizations.

Based on the Marxist-Leninist principles and the systematizations contained in the Documents and Resolutions of the ICMLPO, we are acting in a world in which the fundamental contradictions of the time are clearly manifested. These are: the contradiction between labor and capital that manifests itself in the confrontation between the working class and the bourgeoisie; the contradiction between the oppressed peoples and nations and imperialism; the contradictions between the bourgeoisies, between the monopolies and between imperialisms; and, the contradiction between socialism and capitalism.

After a period in which US imperialism lost ground in this region, which it has always considered as its "backyard," today it is trying to regain ground by confronting China, Russia and the European Union, which have expanded their investments and interests, particularly since the beginning of this century. US imperialism has defined an orientation to regain a more leading role on the planet, for which has defined the policy of "Americanism" that seeks to "put the United States first." Regarding Latin America, it is again taking up the so-called Monroe Doctrine, summarized by the phrase "America for the Americans."

With that orientation, the Trump administration is pressuring and blackmailing its allies, threatening to weaken them through economic and military agreements, deepening a xenophobic anti-immigration policy, feeding the warmongering discourse and actions, initiating a trade war that can have serious effects not only on the countries that would be directly involved, but throughout the planet because of the worldwide impact of their actors. There is no doubt that in the White House a group with arch-reactionary pro-fascist positions is dominant.

We note that a change is occurring in the balance of social and political forces in the region, and after the failure of the so-called progressive governments the neoliberal right-wing is taking up the positions in the exercise of governmental power. The debacle of those regimes does not mean the failure of the revolution and socialism, of the organizations of the revolutionary left, because they were not in power, as the bourgeoisie and imperialism claim in their systematic anti-communist campaign. What has failed has been reformism, social democracy, opportunism, which were unable to meet the needs of the people, so after years of expectation and hope the people turned their backs on them. The weakness of the revolutionary forces has not allowed the workers and peoples to see in the revolutionary left a real option of proletarian and popular power, which would put an end to dependence and exploitation.

Due to the deterioration of the living conditions of the masses and their impoverishment, the search for change persists in the action of the workers, youth, women and peoples in general, which is expressed in the development and rise of the struggle of the masses for their material demands and political rights, which are taking place, in ways differentiated by their level, in practically all countries. It is also seen in the electoral results, such as in Mexico, where the people voted to sanction those who have traditionally been in power; and in Colombia, where a democratic option achieved an unprecedentedly high vote in that country. In both countries the search for change, the repudiation of corruption and state violence is seen among broad sectors of the population.

We Marxist-Leninist Communists have the obligation to put ourselves at the forefront of the struggle of the workers and the people everywhere, even in those countries where there are self-proclaimed progressive and left governments. The discourse promoted by opportunism, that the struggle of the masses is playing into the hands of imperialism and internal conspiracies in those supposed revolutionary processes that do not really exist, cannot allow us to turn our backs on the struggle of the masses; on the contrary, it forces us to deepen our relationship with them and their political education under the principles of class independence.

We express our solidarity with the struggle of the Nicaraguan people who are facing a government that has nothing to do with the forces that led to the triumph of the Sandinista revolution in 1979. There, a just struggle against the IMF policies applied by Ortega and Murillo is being waged. Due to the discontent of the masses, this has taken on political characteristics. Within the framework of inter-bourgeois contradictions, sectors of the right and US imperialism are working to drive this discontent in their direction and to settle accounts with Ortega, which we reject.

Venezuela is also – and has been for some years now – a critical point in the region, where US interventionism is playing its part. The country is experiencing an acute economic, political and social crisis, which expresses the historical inability of reformism, social democracy and opportunism to face revolutionary processes, precisely because of their bourgeois class character. We reject Yankee interference; we are in solidarity with the Venezuelan workers and people who are fighting a daily struggle for subsistence and little by little they are understanding the responsibility of the government in this situation. We give our full support to the revolutionaries of that country who are looking for a revolutionary solution to the crisis.

Faced with the battles of the people for bread, freedom, democracy and sovereignty, we will always raise up the right of these people to their self-determination. The destiny of each country is in the struggle of the workers and the peoples; no one has the right to decide on their behalf.

The work that we are carrying out in our respective countries will allow us to reap new political victories, expand our forces and develop our actions. However, we are conscious of the fact that our organizations must make greater efforts to strengthen our ranks, to grow and respond in better conditions to the challenges that the organization of the social revolution of the proletariat demands; that is why our main efforts must be to improve our mass work, to develop the forces of the revolution, to strengthen the revolutionary vanguard in each country. For that we have the support of Marxism-Leninism, the accumulated experience of the international communist movement and the revolutionary impetus of the workers, youth and our peoples.

We sign this declaration inspired by the celebration of the 200th anniversary of the birth of Karl Marx, whose genius made it possible to give scientific support to the struggle of the world working class for socialism and communism.

Quito, July 2018

Revolutionary Communist Party – Bolivia

Revolutionary Communist Party – Brazil

Communist Party of Colombia (Marxist-Leninist)

Communist Party of Labor of the Dominican Republic

Marxist-Leninist Communist Party of Ecuador

Communist Party of Mexico (Marxist-Leninist)

Peruvian Communist Party (Marxist-Leninist)

Revolutionary Communist Organization of Uruguay

Marxist-Leninist Communist Party of Venezuela

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Abolish NATO

This is a statement from European members of the International Conference of Marxist - Leninist Parties and Organizations (ICMLPO, ): 

On the occasion of NATO’s summit, in Brussels, in July 2018 and of all the mobilisations that will be organized to denounce this war mongering military alliance, we say :

No to NATO
No to European war policy
International solidarity against reaction and the policy of war and austerity of imperialism
The 11th and 12th July, the representatives of 29 States, members of the biggest military coalition, led by US imperialism, will hold their annual meeting in NATO’s bunker, Brussels.
In continuing Obama’s program, but with his own provocative style, Trump has pressured his allies to raise their war budgets to 2% of the GNP and they all agreed. In all the NATO members states, the governments are increasing the budgets devoted to new weapons by tens of billions of Euros, crowns, liras, etc., at the expanse of the budgets for education, health, social demands. The militarisation of economies and States is developing rapidly.
The Nordic countries are more and more involved in the US, NATO and EU strategy of encircling Russia, transforming this strategic zone into a vast camp of training for thousands of soldiers, tanks, aircrafts and vessels, and of electronic spying, surveillance and guidance of missiles through satellites and huge radars.
At the same time, all the facilities are given to NATO troops and vehicles to travel all around the EU countries, under the leadership and control of a new ‘logistical” command centred in Ulm (Germany).
In the context of sharp crisis of the worldwide imperialist system, the contradictions between imperialist powers are increasing. Trump is destabilizing the existing imperialist “order” and its “multilateral” agencies, rules and treaties, in order to reinforce US hegemony. NATO is also impacted, even if the “common interest” between the US and the big imperialist powers in Europe against Russia are prevailing, as can be seen in the relationships between the EU and NATO.
Under the pressure of French and German imperialist powers, the EU is developing a “common policy of defence”, with several initiatives, such as PESCO, European fund for defence, etc. Billions of Euros are devoted to developing new weapons for the European market first and for getting a bigger share of the international market for weapons. The Middle East reactionary monarchies, Egypt, Israel, Turkey, etc. are “good” clients, no matter if their policy has nothing to do with the “democratic values of Europe”.
In fact, the ruling class in Europe tramples on these same “values” towards migrants who are trying to escape the wars waged by the same imperialist powers (in Africa, in the Middle East – and the misery that they provoke by plundering the wealth of these continents (oil, raw material, water, soil, etc.). The reinforcement of “Frontex” – a kind of European Police of borders goes along with the reinforcement of the collaboration with NATO in the Mediterranean Sea. The result: more difficulties and dangers for the migrants, constant police harassment, more drowning...
The militarization is presented by Macron and Merkel as one of the best way to promote a new step for European integration. This fact shows the reactionary nature of the EU. The big monopolies of the weapon industries, especially German and French ones, have contracts of billion of Euros, for years, which mean billions of sure profits. This is of course a matter of friction between the US and EU monopolies.
We support the growing people’s opposition to the policy of war, militarisation and against NATO and European war policy
The peoples’ opposition to this policy of war is developing on the local, national, regional and international level. We support them strongly in each of our countries and work to develop international solidarity and common work between all these movements, under the slogan: no to NATO, no to European War policy.
We support the opposition to raising the budgets of war, under the slogan:
Money for education, health and social demands; no money for bombs, no money for wars”.
We support the opposition to US and NATO bases, in the different countries where they are installed and demand the withdrawal of all the nuclear missiles and bombs in the air bases.
We stand clearly for the dissolution of NATO.
We extend this mobilization against the foreign military bases of the States that are members of NATO, especially, the French bases in Africa and against the military operations of the EU and European States in Africa, especially in Mali, in the Middle East, etc.
We continue to oppose the war against Syria, which is extending to the whole region and say “no” to any kind of war against Iran.
We support the struggle of the Palestinian people for its national rights and denounce strongly the policy of Israel, the war criminal Netanyahu and its international supporters: Israel is closely linked to the US and NATO and participates in many common military exercises.
We mobilize against the policy of “modernization of nuclear weapons”, promoted by US imperialism and also followed by France, UK, etc. and the evolution of the doctrine of employment as “first strike”.
We support the popular movement of opposition in the Nordic countries to militarisation and the transformation of this zone into a battlefield between the US, NATO and EU on one hand and Russia on the other hand.
We are convinced that the peoples’ movement can develop broadly, on clear anti-imperialist bases, that does not rally to one imperialism against another but seeks to develop the ties with peaceful, democratic, anti-war, internationalist, anti-imperialist, revolutionary movements all over the world.
We insist on involving the workers’ movement, the trade union movement, the women’s movement and the youth in this large front, against war, militarisation, for freedom and social progress.

The International Conference of Marxist-Leninist Parties and Organizations, of Europe.
June 2018

Friday, June 29, 2018

A note on Durham Spark at 13 and a summer calendar

A note for the 13th anniversary of Durham Spark

My first post was June 6, 2005 ( ) and I'm proud to have kept this blog going for 13 years (a good prime number), though there are shortcomings; for example I wanted to have more original, journalistic content and detailed analysis, posts aren't very frequent, and I planned to post about this anniversary on June 6th.  The title probably needs clarification.  I was looking for a title along the lines of the Toledo Blade, Charleston Mercury, and Madisonville Meteor, but with an 'industrial' and 'political' quality, and settled on the Durham Spark.  It is hard to recall now, but I don't think I intended to emulate the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party's Iskra (Russian for spark), initially run by Lenin. 


More items will be added later on and some may be listed without full endorsement.

Plastic Free July challenges people to last a month without single-use plastic products:  Plastic is becoming common in the oceans, killing oceanic birds and even whales that ingest it.  It is predicted that plastic pollution will outweigh fish in the oceans by 2050.  Plastic litter is also common along roads and in popular parks around here.  I think the General Assembly repealed a ban on plastic bags on the Outer Banks a few years ago.      

June is NC LGBT Pride Month (

Chapel Hill Peace Vigil

Is 5 - 6pm on Fridays at the corner of East Franklin and Elliot streets (Village Plaza shopping center, near Whole Foods).

Upcoming library book sales

Friends of the Durham Library sales ( ):  August 4, September 15-16, October 27, and December 1-2. 

The next Friends of the Chapel Hill Public Library book sales will be September 7-9 and December 7-9 ( ).
Like the Durham libraries, Lee County libraries have ongoing booksales at the branches.

Elected Honduran President Manuel Zelaya was overthrown June 28, 2009, with the support of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the Obama Administration.  This rightist coup contributed to the violence and poverty in Honduras, for example the assassination of environmentalist Berta Cáceres March 2, 2016, and the result is high levels of unauthorized immigration to the US ( ).  If people in the US want to reduce undocumented immigration, a start would be to stop fomenting and abetting political and economic oppression in Latin America and elsewhere.      

The Stonewall Riots began June 28, 1969.  
US - Cuba Friendship Caravan event in Durham
The Pastors for Peace project will be at the Community Family Life and Recreation Center in Lyon Park (1309 Fayetteville Street) 3 - 5pm June 30th. 
Mexico will have a general election July 1st, and left populist Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador seems likely to be elected president.    
The Battle of Gettysburg was July 1 - 3, 1863 in Pennsylvania, and was the Civil War battle with the most casualties, missing, wounded, or killed.  Together with the Federal victory at Vicksburg, Mississippi on July 4th it is seen as a major turning point.   
July 3, 1988 the USS Vincennes shot down Iran Air Flight 655 in Iranian airspace and while the ship was in Iranian territorial waters in the Persian Gulf, killing 290 civilians (66 children) from several countries.  The US government paid restitution, but refused to apologize and the captain and crew of the Vincennes received various awards.   

The 13 Colonies declared independence from the UK July 4, 1776, though the Revolutionary War/War for Independence had already begun, in 1775

There will be a July 4th celebration in Carrboro on the 4th, 10am - 3:30pm at the Town Hall, with tablers including the Triangle branch of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom.

Eno River Festival

This 39th edition of the annual celebration will be Wednesday, July 4th and Saturday July 7th at West Point on the Eno ( ).

Emma Goldman:  Dangerous Woman

Dr Sally Ann Drucker will discuss anarchist Emma Goldman's life (June 27, 1869 - May 14, 1940) and activism, July 7th at 2pm at Durham's Southwest Regional Library. 

July 12 is Día del Árbol (Day of the Tree), Mexico's version of Arbor Day (see Wikipedia and ). 

The Storming of the Bastille during the French Revolution was July 15, 1789, and July 15th is an important holiday in France today.

"FIGHT FOR REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS AND DEFEATING GAG RULE Join those concerned about civil rights outside Senator Thom Tillis's Raleigh office while Population Connection's Health Empowerment Rights meets inside with Senator Tillis's staff to demand an end to Trump's Global Gag Rule. RSVP and learn more on Facebook here [ ]. 2:30- 3:30 p.m., Monday, July 16, 310 New Bern Avenue, Suite 122, corner of Person Street.  Amanda period murray at populationconnection period org]" [from the Chapel Hill activist calendar]

#NoPipelines #RiseTogether weeks of action July 16 - 31  ( )

Rally and Letter Delivery to Save Net Neutrality

It will be Thursday, July 19th at 12pm at 2741 Campus Walk Avenue, Durham 27705 and is part of a national day of action organized by Demand Progress.

Popular Resistance Classrooms Not Computers National Teach - In July 19 and December 28, 8 - 9:30pm EST  ( )

The Energy Crisis Inside the Greek Debt Crisis

UNC anthropologist Sandy Smith - Nonini will discuss her recent fieldwork in Greece at Recyclique (2811 Hillsborough Road, Durham; ) Friday, July 20th at 6:30pm.  There is a suggested donation of $5 dollars.  Parking is available behind the building or at the nearby Food Lion. 
National Moth Week is July 21 – 29 ( ). 

The comment period on the US Fish and Wildlife Service's proposal to reduce the protected area for the endangered red wolf in eastern North Carolina ends July 30th ( ). 

Map Your Local News Ecosystem workshop

Saturday, July 21st at 1pm at Durham's Southwest Regional Library News Voices:  North Carolina Director Fiona Morgan will lead a discussion of the local media network, to help participants get more from the media. 

Frank Hyman talk

Durham political activist and writer Frank Hyman will give a talk titled:  "The Founding Fathers Wanted to Avoid a Tyranny of the Majority, but Instead We're Stuck with a Tyranny of the Minority," on the control of the Federal government by a party with a minority of support, enacting unpopular policies, and what can be done.  This will be July 21st at 10am at Durham's Southwest Regional Library. 

The Farmworker Organizing Committee (FLOC) seeks volunteer drivers

FLOC needs some help getting workers from nearby farms to meetings Sunday, July 22nd and Saturday, August 18th.  There is not a great need for drivers, but they could still use more volunteers and there will be future meetings. 

Peacebuilding in the Holy Land

This announcement was sent out on a few email lists:

 "Two speakers on Peacebuilding in the Holy Land, 11:30 July 22
Last fall, two NC graduate students traveled to Israel/Palestine in an Interfaith Peace Builders delegation.  This Sunday they will reflect on their journey and their research before and after.
Melissa Gamble, African American Duke Divinity Master’s Program student, will discuss 
“The Theology of Palestinian Liberation as it intersects with Black Liberation Theology."

Kylie Stephens, a student in the Peace and Conflict Resolution program at UNCG, will discuss 
“The Right of Return: Moving Beyond Perceptions and Toward Peacebuilding.”

Come hear from our visitors and join in the discussion, 11:30 a.m., upstairs in the Overlook Room! 
Chapel of the Cross Episcopal Church, 304 E Franklin St, Chapel Hill 27514
Free Sunday parking is available in the Planetarium lot next to the church." 
First Annual Community Love Cookout

Witness for Peace Southeast is organizing this solidarity cookout to celebrate community organizers and share experiences.  It will be a Shelter #4 in Raleigh's Pullen Park (520 Ashe Avenue, Raleigh, 27606), Sunday, July 22nd 5 - 8pm

July 23, 2002 British officials met to discuss US Iraq policy, resulting in the Downing Street Minutes or Memo, which seems to say that a disingenuous case for war was being presented and bombing in preparation for war was already going on, among other revelations.  Several other documents illuminating the path to the war of aggression against Iraq were also leaked. 

The 2018 Gardener's Fair, organized by the Durham Garden Forum, will be Tuesday, July 24th, 6:30 - 8pm at Duke Gardens.  For more information, email durhamgardenforum at gmail period com. 

The 22nd annual International Seminar on Problems of the Revolution in Latin America, organized by the PCMLE and the JRE youth organization, will meet July 25 - 27th in Quito, Ecuador.

Build Relationships with Local Media

News Voices:  North Carolina Director Fiona Morgan will discuss how people can dialogue with journalists for better coverage, Thursday, July 26th at 6:30pm at Durham's East Regional Library.

Raleigh Fundraiser for FLOC

There will be a reading by author Sandra Cisneros at NCSU Thursday, August 2nd to benefit FLOC.  I don't have further details yet. [It will be in the Hunt Library Auditorium at NCSU, 1070 Partners Way, Raleigh, at 7pm.  The NC State Bookstore will sell books for signing after Cisneros' talk, benefitting FLOC.  For more information, call 919 513 3481.]   

Atomic bombs were dropped on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki August 6th and 9th 1945, respectively. 

Fundraising Concert for the NC Farmworker Union, FLOC

Triangle Friends of Farmworkers and the National Farm Worker Ministry are organizing a fundraising event Tuesday, August 7th at 130 Hunt Street in Durham starting at 7:30pm (open at 7pm).  There will be a FLOC update and a concert by folk singer and composer Rod MacDonald.  Free parking is available at the Senior Center across the street.  For more information or tickets, contact daustin at mindspring period com.  Tickets are $20 dollars (negotiable, and larger amounts appreciated), and can  be sent to Dave Austin, 130 Hunt Street, Apt 407, Durham, North Carolina 27701.  To donate to FLOC directly, see:

German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel was born August 27, 1770 in Stuttgart, Germany; his works were an important influence in the later development of Marxism. 

Rise for Climate, Jobs, and Justice! national day of action September 8th.  An event is being planned in Raleigh, details TBA:

Mexico's Independence Day is September 16th, commemorating Miguel Hidalgo's Grito de Dolores (Cry of Dolores) in 1810.

Henrietta Boggs film showing

September 15th to October 15th is National Hispanic Heritage Month, and there will be a showing of First Lady of the Revolution:  A Southern Belle's Journey Through Love, Exile, and Revolution September 20th at 6:30pm in the Durham Arts Council's PSI Theatre (120 Morris Street).  Henrietta Boggs was born May 6, 1918 in South Carolina, was a debutante in Alabama, and married Costa Rican anti-communist liberal leader Jose Figueres Ferrer, though they divorced in 1954.  She moved back to the US, where she was employed by Costa Rica's UN delegation. 

The North Carolina Commission of Inquiry on Torture report will be published September 26th. 

There will be a general election in NC November 6th ( ).     

School of the Americas Watch Border Encuentro 2018 will be November 16 - 18 at the southern border in Nogales Arizona/Sonora ( ). 

The First International Conference Against US/NATO Military Bases will also be November 16 - 18, in Dublin, Ireland ( ).