Saturday, June 23, 2007

Durham BORDC meeting Saturday at Stanford Warren

The Durham Bill of Rights Defense Committee's June meeting is today at 3pm at the Stanford Warren Library, on Fayetteville St.  I think the main agenda items will be the ongoing campaign against the NC connection to rendition of prisoners for torture and tabling at July 4th events. 
Also, this is the second day of the Friends of the Durham Library's summer booksale.  They have a range of books, most going for $1 dollar hardcover and 50 cents paperback.  I found most of my Marxist books in the philosophy section and sometimes in the history section, along with books on the histories of the "socialist bloc" countries.
I think the renovations downtown are also being officially unveiled Saturday, with the festivities starting at 10am.  It would be nice if the editors of UNC's Daily Tar Heel and others who are hard on Durham's image would take notice.  Though we could use some new trees downtown to replace the ones cut for street work.  
If the Grass Roots Impeachment Movement meeting Sunday at 5:30 is open to the public, I assume it is announced at     

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Protecting and expanding democracy discussion July 2nd

Mark the July 4th national liberation of the USA by
joining a discussion Monday, July 2nd at 7pm at
Internationalist Books in Chapel Hill (405 W. Franklin
St.) about the need for revolutionary political and
economic change to make the country more democratic,
fair, prosperous, and sustainable.  How can we remove
Bush and Cheney for their proven crimes?  Whose
interests control politics?  Is monopoly capitalism
serving most Americans well?  How can we live up to
our democratic and progressive ideals?

Now is the time to discuss this, as Bush leads an
an anti-democratic reaction, and at a time when we
celebrate America's revolutionary birthday.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Highway 54 condo rezoning, etc. on the 18th

The rezoning of the back half of the proposed Highway 54 condominium project will be voted upon Monday evening at 7pm at the City Hall.  The rezoning of the cleared area on Fayetteville Rd. at Massey Chapel Rd., I think to expand a daycare, will also be voted upon.  I think the proposal to sell part of the old Lowes Grove Elementary School grounds for commercial development is a County and not a City issue, but that is another local development concern right now.  Some in the community are against the government giving public land to private interests when the site's location by two schools and the future location of what is now the Parkwood Branch Library make it useful for public projects.    
Of the rezonings, I am most concerned about case the condominium request, rezoning from
commercial neighborhood to office and institutional, supposedly for condominiums on Highway 54 in front of Parkwood at Blanchard Rd., near the intersection of 55.  I have heard that the developer proposes to build condominiums on the side by 54, with the rezoned portion to be less impacted. When I saw that the house on the site, in a yard with large Willow Oaks, was for sale, I expected that it would just be sold to another homeowner.  I had a dream once that the site would be levelled, but I didn't expect it to happen, but that now seems likely.  The hilly site will probably require a lot of grading to be built upon and much of it is mature hardwood forest with large oaks and relatively rare spring wildflowers, such as Fringe Tree, Mayapple, Rue Anemone (Windflower). There is some English Ivy and Vinca creeping in, but it seems pretty pristine (more so than a lot of Parkwood's public green spaces.  The site is cut by a tributary of Northeast Creek, and the Creek's
floodplain is near or touching the area to be rezoned. It is bad for the area's biodiversity and scenery to cut this woods, probably left over from a larger hardwood forest cut for Parkwood.  Any grading that is done will further harm the water quality of NE Creek and Jordan Lake from silt and later the additional polluted stormwater runoff and flood surge from the development.  Siltation means the loss of topsoil and is bad for aquatic organisms.  You can see how much silt NE Creek is burdened with when it flows yellow-brown into Jordan Lake at 751 after storms. I am surprised that none of the neighbors are opposing this rezoning.  I wrote to Mayor Bell and the City Council to urge them
to get written assurances about what the developer intends to build, to minimize grading, to preserve the wooded back part of the property (and as many trees as possible), and to add a sidewalk (and a bikelane if 54 will be modified).  Given the hilly nature of the site, stormwater control would also be good.  At least the development is proposed along bus routes and is not a gas station (that is apparently the Parkwood Association's argument, but why did it oppose Audubon Park then, which is supposed to be the reason why the area north of Sedwick Rd. was clearcut?).  I don't see how the development would benefit the community.  Also, will it be lower cost housing or will it be more expensive, but poorly situated housing, like some of the neighborhoods along Grandale Rd., for example where a house was built in a partially filled-in seasonal pond?

The  other area, on Fayetteville Rd. by Massey Chapel Rd., is being requested rezoned from rural residential to transitional office overlay.  The Council could require the owners to replant a
buffer on the east side of the clearcut property to buffer the neighbors and a pond on a tributary of Crooked Creek, which also flows into Jordan Lake.  Given the amount of development along Fayetteville Rd., I expect Crooked Creek is getting pretty silty now and has stormwater problems.  I heard that the clearcutting might have been in violation of the rules, but that might be allowed under rural residential zoning. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Discussion: What is Fascism? June 30th

After a short hiatus, I reserved the Chapel Hill
Public Library's conference room on Saturday, June 30th,
2:30-4:30 for the next Triangle Socialist Forum discussion.   
This meeting will be on fascism.  Fascism is
a word that is often used as an epithet, even today,
but what it is and who is fascist is usually poorly
defined by its opponents and even less often is there an attempt to
explain the material basis for fascist seizure of power
and their policies.  Has there ever really been a coherent
political syndrome that we can call fascism, is fascism in power anywhere
today, and if there is fascism now, is it the same
thing as the fascism of the 20's-40's?  I'm thinking of this
as the start of a series of discussions on fascism,
but that depends on how this meeting goes.       

There will be a showing of the 28-minute presentation made
by William Manson and Maria Darlington for The Peoples
Channel of Chapel Hill.  
Useful readings are:

A recent short article on the 14 characteristics of
fascism, Fascism Anyone?, by Laurence W. Britt
and published in Free Inquiry magazine.  It is available at:

The first section of Part 1 of a collection of
speeches. reports, etc. by Gregori Dimitrov, a Bulgarian
communist who was the general secretary of the
Comintern (the third international communist association)
around the time of WWII.  I think he was
also tried by the Nazis for the Reichstag fire (which
the Nazis probably set themselves).  He gives another
analysis of fascism and the Comintern definition:

Chapter 20 of economic historian Karl Polanyi's book,
The Great Transformation, might also be helpful, but
this isn't required reading.  It would be
interesting to discuss later.  The book is about the
development of capitalism up to WWII, focusing on the
tension between the assumptions capitalism requires to
work and the economic, social, and environmental
realities.  Chapter 20 focuses on why fascism
developed.  I haven't looked to see if the book is
online, but you would probably have to find a library
copy or buy it.

I'm not suggesting a survey of all the currents of
thought on fascism, but another contemporary view is
presented in a 1932 analysis by Trotsky:

As always, it is best to read for the meeting, but
that shouldn't stop anyone from coming.  I think a
film relating to this, From Freedom to Fascism is
being shown at The Open Eye Cafe in Carrboro Friday