Sunday, March 29, 2015

Upcoming events in the Asheville area this week

 (Image by Gerardo Femina)
In Prague’s Wenceslas Square some 1500 people demonstrated yesterday, Saturday 29th March 2015, against Operation “Dragoon Ride” in which US army personnel and equipment are crossing Czech Republic territory starting today on the way to their German base. Speeches were given by several anti-war organisations, including the Communist Party and World without Wars and Violence all of which spoke highly critically of the government for the way that the decision to allow this procession has been made without going through parliament and knowing that 70% of the population is against the presence of foreign troops.


A free 8 week training in community organizing for low wage workers and people living in poverty. Learn how to raise your voice and organize your friends and neighbors to be agents of change. Together we can help create more living wage jobs, create a better transportation system, advocate for issues we care about, and work for better access to basic needs like child care, health care, housing, etc. This is on Monday nights from March 30th to May 18th in downtown Asheville. Time is 6 to 8:30 PM. Free transportation, dinner, and childcare are provided to all participants. Contact Amy at Just Economics WNC to sign up: 828-505-7466. This is a facebook event.

Warren Wilson College’s 2014-15 Spotlight Series continues March 30 with a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and filmmaker who has a remarkable personal story of his own: undocumented immigrant Jose Antonio Vargas. Born in the Philippines, Vargas revealed himself as an undocumented immigrant in 2011 in a stunning and widely praised essay in The New York Times Magazine titled, “My Life as an Undocumented Immigrant.” He had discovered, when applying for his learner’s driving permit at age 16, that his green card was a fake, a fact his grandfather later confirmed. Vargas decided to hide his true identity in order to avoid deportation, until he felt compelled to write the Times article. Vargas subsequently testified at a U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on immigration reform and has publicly and effectively challenged news media coverage of undocumented immigrants. His free public lecture, “Define American: My Life as an Undocumented Immigrant,” begins at 7 PM in Kittredge Theater, at the north entrance to campus. The Vargas lecture is part of Warren Wilson’s Spotlight Series of nationally and internationally known speakers. The series theme for this academic year is “Social and Intellectual Movements.” For more information about the Jose Antonio Vargas lecture, contact WWC Dean of Service Cathy Kramer at or 828-771-3774.

Environmental Legislative Update: The Good, the Bad, the Ugly. Join us on April 1 for our Legislative Update with Cassie Gavin. The meeting will include a legislative preview of upcoming issues and legislation related to the environment that may be introduced by the NC General Assembly in the 2015 session. Cassie will update members on the status of current environmental issues affecting North Carolina such as solar energy, fracking, coal ash, water quality, and offshore drilling and discuss the possibility of any legislative action on these issues in the coming year. Socializing begins at 7 PM and program begins at 7:15 PM. Location is the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Asheville on Charlotte Street and Edwin Place in Asheville. Contact:, or 828-683-2176 for more information.

After the horrific shooting of three Muslim Chapel Hill students, mainstream media reported that the tragedy was likely the result of a "parking dispute". As we mourn these three incredible people and try to understand how something so terrifying could happen, it is impossible to ignore the cloud of bigotry and hate hanging over these murders. The current climate in the U.S. is rife with anti-Muslim racism, or Islamophobia. State surveillance, unlawful detainment, racialized prejudice, distorted representation in media, attacks on the street and in private homes, are realities for many Muslims living in America. After September 11, 2001, the Bush administration launched a "war on terror" ushering in an era of Islamophobia. However, 9/11 alone did not create Islamophobia. Anti-Muslim and Anti-Arab racism has both fueled and been fueled by U.S. policy, and is a crucial component of U.S. global domination. Join the International Socialist Organization in Asheville for a discussion about Islamophobia, empire, and resistance. We believe in liberation - from Chapel Hill to Palestine. This is hosted by Asheville Socialists. Time is 6:30 PM and location is Highsmith Union, room 222, at UNCA.

There will be a slideshow and discussion of the 50th Anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery Voting Rights March. Time is 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM. Location is the Battery Park Roof Garden at 1 Battle Square in downtown Asheville. Please call Clare at 828-242-5610 for more information including building access code.

Asheville is forming a chapter of the Citizens Climate Lobby. Bill Blancato from the Winston-Salem chapter will be joining us to describe what a Citizen's Climate Lobby chapter looks like and how we can get started. Our mission as a group will be to convince our national Representative Meadows to support carbon fee and dividend legislation. Time is 6:30 to 9:30 PM at Kairos West Community Center at 742 Haywood Road in west Asheville. For more information, contact Jamie at 

Navigating Normativities: 2015 Queer Studies Conference at UNC Asheville, April 2-4, 2015.The UNC Asheville Queer Studies Conference, a biennial event established in 1998, attracts an international audience of activists, academics, and artists who showcase a range of creative and scholarly pursuits related to the investigation of genders and sexualities. For more information, please contact Lorena Russell at, 828-251-6594. Time is 7:30 AM to 10 PM on Thursday and Friday and 7:30 AM to noon on Sunday.  Location is Laurel Forum in Karpen Hall at UNCA.

Urvashi Vaid: Beyond The Wedding Ring: Confronting Race, Class and the Assumptions of LGBT Politics – Vaid is a community organizer, writer and attorney who has been a leader in the LGBT and social justice movements for nearly three decades.Event is sponsored by Inquiry ARC, Center for Teaching and Learning, Office of the Provost, Department of Sociology, University Programs, Department of Management and Accountancy, Cultural Events and Special Academic Programs, and the Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies Program and others. Free and open to public. Time is 4 PM to 6:20 PM and location is Carmichael Humanities Lecture Hall at UNCA. 

“Russian and the Near Abroad” by Steve Solnick, professor at Warren Wilson College. As calls for closer ties with the EU failed to be met, Ukrainians took to the streets in in November 2013. As the movement later known as the Euromaidan, or “Euro Square,” pulled western Ukraine closer to its European neighbors, another powerful force threatened to tear away the country’s eastern half: Russia. Putin’s pushback against European expansionism has the West wondering: If Putin’s Russia isn’t afraid to take an aggressive stance against Europeanization in Ukraine, what does that mean for the rest of Russia’s neighbors? Not to mention what of Putin’s relationship with Russia’s oligarchs as world-wide oil prices plummet and the ruble diminishes. Free admission for WAC members and students; $10 general public. For more details about programs, consult the WAC website. Time is 7:30 PM to 9:30 PM and location is Reuter Center Room 102A at UNCA. This was rescheduled from February 24 due to adverse weather on that date.

Join host Bruce Roth for a lively discussion on topics of current interest including war and peace, the economy, the environment, and other hot political topics. The April pick is “If Mayors Ruled the World: Dysfunctional Nations, Rising Cities” by Benjamin Barber. Time is 7 PM. For more information, contact Bruce at

This meeting will be at 9:30 AM at Black Mountain Presbyterian Church at 117 Montreat Road in Black Mountain. This group was formerly called “Western Carolinians for Peace and Justice in the Middle East”.

Interested in where your drinking water comes from? Join us for a tour of the North Fork Reservoir, and discover the process by which our water is treated and distributed. The tour will last about two hours and will address watershed dynamics, filtration and chlorination, water quality testing, distribution and control operations. There will be a carpooling meet-up location at 1:30 PM and the tour will start at 2 PM. If you are interested in attending this tour please email our education coordinator to sign-up at

Join Asheville Green Drinks on April 8th for a compassionate panel presentation of the literacy needs in our area and how programs in our community help with these needs. Panelists include Julie Wade the founder of The Snake, Rabbit, and Snail non-profit bookmobile, Laura Hope-Gill Associate Professor of Writing at Lenoir-Rhyne Univserstiy, and Brantlee Eisenman Development Director of the Literacy Council of Buncombe County. Time is 5:30 PM for socializing and 6PM for the program. Location is the Green Sage Cafe in downtown Asheville.

Urban Water Cycle Tour. Location: THURS Wastewater Treatment Plant in Asheville, FRI Water Treatment Plant in Black Mountain. Time: THURS 9:45 AM, FRI 9:45 AM. Join MountainTrue for two separate tours which will help get you better acquainted with the water you use every day. Where does our water come from, and where does it go? Thursday we will tour Buncombe County's Wastewater Treatment plant (where our water goes), and Friday we will tour the City of Asheville's Water Treatment Plant (where our water comes from). Both tours will last up to two hours. For more information and to register, please contact Rachel at

On Friday, April 10th, at 7 PM, we are screening the award-winning documentary,  “Gen Silent” a film about discrimination against LGBT seniors in the health care system. Four out of five LGBT elders say that they don't trust the health-care system. Fifty percent of nursing home workers said their fellow workers would be intolerant of LGBT people. What would you do to survive if you were old, disabled and ill – afraid of discrimination or abuse? “Gen Silent” is the LGBT documentary from award-winning director and documentary filmmaker Stu Maddux, that asks six LGBT seniors if they will hide their lives to survive. They put a face on what experts in the film call an epidemic: gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender seniors so afraid of discrimination, or worse, in long-term/health care that many go back into the closet. There will be a discussion afterwards. Time is 7 PM and location is Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Charlotte and Edwin Streets in Asheville. Free, donations accepted. Call Charles at 612-860-6628 for more information.

Street Protest at Vance Monument. Time is noon to 2 PM. This will focus on stopping the flow of our tax dollars that support Israel’s military occupation.  

With the support from the residents from Hillcrest apartments and grant from TD Bank we're creating a community orchard and park that will be a benefit to the neighborhood as well as the local environment. Join us for a major volunteer day as we install our 6th community orchard in partnership with Hillcrest Apartments. We will be planting 24 ball and burlap apple trees and 36 blueberries to promote better access to food. We will need lots of volunteers to help us put these trees and blueberries in the ground. Tools, gloves, training, snacks and refreshments will be provided. Please dress for digging and getting dirty. Email or phone our offices with questions including how to register: or 828-254-1776.

04/11/15 and 04/12/15 MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR
This is a family-friendly sustainable living event that features 200 hands-on workshops and demonstrations from experts on real food, organic gardening, homesteading, renewable energy, green building and remodeling, DIY projects, small-scale livestock, green transportation, natural health, and related topics.Also on the grounds: hands-on children’s projects; heritage-breed livestock; an alternative-fuel vehicle display; vendor, livestock and craft demonstrations; and local and organic food offerings. Pre-order weekend wristband passes for $25. Passes will cost $30 at the gate. Children 17 and under get in free. Time is 9 AM to 7 PM on Saturday, and 9 AM to 5 PM on Sunday. Location is WNC Agricultural Center.

Event of Interest: Medicaid Expansion Town Hall. Planned Parenthood is hosting a town hall discussion with Representatives Ager and Van Duyn, as well as community experts on the topic of Medicaid expansion. Time is 1 to 3 PM and location is First Congregational UCC at 20 Oak Street in downtown Asheville. Register for the event here:

The topic will be “Humanitarian Consequences of Nuclear War” by Steve Gilman, MC from Physicians for Social Responsibility. The location is St. Mary’s Episcopal Church at 337 Charlotte Street in Asheville. Time is 6:30 to 8 PM. For more information, contact

Leading a State Department Provincial Reconstruction Team on its quixotic mission, Van Buren details, with laser-like irony, his yearlong encounter with pointless projects, bureaucratic fumbling, overwhelmed soldiers, and oblivious administrators secluded in the world’s largest embassy. Peter van Buren will speak about his book at Malaprops. Time is 7 PM. 

Leading a State Department Provincial Reconstruction Team on its quixotic mission, Van Buren details, with laser-like irony, his yearlong encounter with pointless projects, bureaucratic fumbling, overwhelmed soldiers, and oblivious administrators secluded in the world’s largest embassy. Peter van Buren will speak about his book at the Humanities Lecture Hall at UNCA. Time is 4 PM. Public invited. For more information, contact Mona at 828-251-6634.

Interested in where your drinking water comes from? Join us for a tour of the North Fork Reservoir, and discover the process by which our water is treated and distributed. The tour will last about two hours and will address watershed dynamics, filtration and chlorination, water quality testing, distribution and control operations. There will be a carpooling meet-up location at 1:30 PM and the tour will start at 2 PM. If you are interested in attending this tour please email our education coordinator to sign-up at

Time is 6:30 PM and location is VFP HQ at the Phil Mechanic Studios: 109 Roberts Street in Asheville. 

Our Energy Solutions: A look at the impacts of fracking and the promise of renewable energy. Join Brook Lenker from FracTracker Alliance to explore the impacts of oil and natural gas extraction in America and the potential impacts for North Carolina. Learn about the promise and potential of renewable energy in our state. Join a discussion with leaders from national and regional organizations examining these issues. Share your vision for the energy future! Staff from Environment NC and MountainTrue will get you up to date on how you can get involved. Time is 6:30-8:30 PM and location is The Millroom at Asheville Brewing Company at 66 Asheland Avenue in Asheville. Cost is free. Light fare provided, beverages available for purchase. Register at MountainTure website.

“The Turbulent Middle East,” presentation by Prof. Paul Magnarella. This will be at 7 PM in Jensen 315 (3rd FloorLecture Hall) at Warren Wilson College. Free and open to the public. Contact Paul at for more information.

The conference will combine workshops to build organizing skills, facilitated discussions about topics impacting LGBT* Southerners, and Continuing Legal Education (CLE) sessions for attorneys on topics of LGBT* law. We are honored to have Mandy Carter, a dynamic Southern leader and long-time activist in the civil rights and LGBT movements, as our keynote speaker. At this critical time for the equality movement in the South, the conference will connect and educate Southern organizers and local practitioners to better serve the LGBT* community. The core themes of this year’s conference are intersectionality and collaboration. Just 2 blocks from each other, Trinity Episcopal Church and Pack Place are perfectly situated in downtown Asheville, surrounded by downtown life and culture.Workshops will take place in both locations throughout Friday & Saturday. The conference is a project of the Campaign for Southern Equality. Go to to register or for more information.

We're headed back to Asheville to kick off the spring season. Spend a Saturday afternoon with us and our special guests while we discuss how we can move NC forward through electing pro-choice, progressive women to office. We hope to see you there. Time is 5 to 7 PM and location is Urban Orchard Cider Company and Bar at 210 Haywood Road in Asheville. Tickets start at $25. Contact Lillian’s List PAC for more information. 

This is sponsored by Creation Care Alliance and will be held at All Souls Episcopal Church in Biltmore Village in Asheville. Time is 5:30 PM. There will be a reception following the vigil.

In their search for answers, filmmakers Dan Susman and Andrew Monbouquette take a road trip and meet the men and women who are challenging the way this country grows and distributes its food, one vacant city lot, rooftop garden, and backyard chicken coop at a time. Join them as they discover that good food isn’t the only crop these urban visionaries are harvesting. They’re producing stronger and more vibrant communities, too. Cost is by donation at the door. No advance sales. First come first serve. Sponsored by Transition Asheville. Time is 6:30 to 9:30 PM and location is The Boardroom (2nd floor) at Lenoir Rhyne at 36 Montford Avenue in Asheville.

This free, four-part series will take place on the last Friday of March, April, May and June. The series runs as follows: March 27: Dream of a Toxic-Free NC; April 24: Pesticides Kill More Than Pests: Keeping Bees and Other Wildlife Safe; May 29: Towns That Are Reducing Their Pesticide Footprint; June 26: It All Starts At Home: Alternatives to Chemical Pesticides. Sessions are being held at the Center for Graduate Studies of Asheville - Lenoir-Rhyne University from 6:00 to 9:00 PM on the above dates. It is our intention to celebrate Asheville as a city in transition, a city willing to take a hard look at what it’s going to take to create the kind of resiliency necessary for a sustainable future.In addition to educating our citizenry – and no doubt learning from you all as well – we want to draw attention to the need for city governments to set an example and model best practices in pest management. Light refreshments will be served each evening. "Join" us for more information, and save these dates! March 27, April 24, May 29, and June 26. We are looking for volunteers and additional sponsors to cover refreshments. Tabling is free, so please do consider sharing your passion with like-minded folk. Time is 6 to 9 PM and location is Lenoir Rhyne University on Montford Avenue in Asheville. They will be using the second floor boardroom. This is a facebook event, and since it is multi-day, you probably want to sign up if you are interested in this topic.

Come out to French Broad River Park to help us celebrate everything trees and Asheville's 35th designation of Tree City USA. This is an all ages event. Activities are: Tree City USA proclamation from the City of Asheville's Mayor; Tree Plantings at the French Broad River Park; Activities for the kids; Walking riverside cleanup. Interested? email: to register.

This will be held at the Asheville City Market tailgate. Time is 8 AM to 1 PM. Accepting TVs, styrofoam, books, electronics, bicycles, children's books, batteries, pet supplies, spent cooking oil and working appliances for Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity. Wanna help us out with this H2R? These events are super fun and run only because of the volunteers. Contact or call 828-254-1776 if you wish to volunteer. 

Ice Cream Social with Elected Officials. Join us for a FREE ice cream sundae bar and celebration of democracy! This year we are hosting an ice cream social at The Hop Ice Cream (640 Merrimon Avenue) with a sundae bar. Children and non-members welcome. Please bring a friend or family member who might like to get involved, meet their representatives, and learn more about civic engagement in our community. Time is 2 to 4 PM and location is The Hop at 640 Merrimon Avenue in Asheville.

Western North Carolina Chapter, Physicians for Social Responsibility (WNC/PSR) invites you – and those in your network who share our goals for health and a sustainable future: Nuclear Weapons: Our Prevention is the Only Cure - WNC/PSR’s recent work on the medical consequences of nuclear war. Time is 6:30 to 8:30 PM, with hors d’oeuvres and social at 6:30 PM and program at 7 PM. Location is MAHEC, Biltmore Campus, Education Center, Balsam Room, at 121 Hendersonville Rd. (up the hill from TGI Friday’s and Double Tree Inn). For: Physicians, Nurses, Health Care professionals and anyone: we will share hope, progress and actions to take now! Speakers are Mary Olson, Southeast Director, Nuclear Information Resource Service, Member WNC/PSR and Steve Gilman, Member PSR National Board, Member WNC/PSR. 

A public hearing has been scheduled for Wednesday, April 29, 6 PM at the Clyde A. Erwin High School Auditorium (60 Lees Creek Road) in Asheville for individuals to comment on the announcement by the Western North Carolina Regional Air Quality Agency (WNCRAQA) of its intent to renew a Title V permit for Duke Energy’s coal-burning electric plant in Arden.
The primary purpose of the Title V permit is to consolidate and identify existing local and federal air quality requirements applicable to the plant and to provide practical methods for determining compliance with these requirements. This permit will be enforceable by the WNCRAQA, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and citizens as defined under the Federal Clean Air Act. Individuals may register to speak at the hearing and/or submit written comments. All written comments received on or prior to April 30 will be considered by the WNCRAQA in making its final decision to issue the Title V permit. For additional information, please contact Betsy Brown, Air Quality Supervisor, at (828) 250-6787 or

Children First/Communities In Schools and the Junior League of Asheville present the 2015 Success Equation Child Watch Tour. This field trip for adults focuses community attention on important child and family issues. This year, we will explore the Child Care Subsidy Program that promotes opportunity and success for working parents and their children. The program serves over 2,200 children in Buncombe County. Tour participants will:  hear from parents and providers about the recent eligibility changes' negative impacts on working parents with school aged children; learn about new federal guidelines that will help improve this long-standing program; get involved in advocacy that supports working families and child development. More information and registration details are coming soon. Time is 4:45 PM. For more information, contact Greg Borom at

Veterans for Peace have a weekly vigil at 5 PM at Pack Square, Vance Monument

Haywood Peace Vigilers have a weekly vigil at 4 PM at Haywood County Courthouse in Waynesville

Asheville Homeless Network meeting at 1 PM at A-Hope on North Ann Street in Asheville.  
Youth Outright Poetry Night at United Church of Christ in Asheville at 5 PM

Women in Black have a weekly vigil at noon at the City Hall in Hendersonville
Women in Black have a monthly vigil at 5 PM at Vance Monument in Asheville (first Friday only)

Transylvanians for Peace and WNC Physicians for Social Responsibility have a weekly vigil at noon in front of the courthouse in Brevard
Third Saturdays – Asheville’s Green Grannies invites the public to “sing for the climate” at Pritchard Park at 5 PM.

Youth OUTright meeting from 4 to 6 PM at First Congregational United Church of Christ at 20 Oak Street in Asheville. Ages 14 - 23 only.


Say NO to drilling off NC Coast!

President Obama wants to open the mid-Atlantic to offshore leasing for oil and gas drilling, and now the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) is preparing an Environmental Impact Statement to examine the impacts of drilling off the NC coast. YOUR COMMENTS can make a difference!  Comments are due March 30th.

The Atlantic has not been drilled before, and for good reason!  Offshore drilling would put the NC coast at risk for an environmental disaster like the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster. It could harm tourism, fishing, and other coastal industries which are the economic backbone of coastal communities. No regulations have changed since the BP Disaster -- there is still the same weak level of oversight and safeguards.  

To submit comments online: 
a) Go to
b) In the search tab, type in Docket ID: Boem-2014-0085
c) Click on the “Comment Now!” button 
Copyright © 2015 Clean Water for North Carolina, All rights reserved.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Earth Hour

Photo came from World Wildlife Fund.

I make an effort, every day, to use as little electricity as possible. I sure am addicted to my car though. I will be turning off my lights for Earth Hour. Earth hour is at 8:30 PM local time, today. From the World Wildlife Fund:

This month we're celebrating Earth Hour 2015 and I want to make sure you participate.  
The world is facing a climate crisis. If we don't act, then humans, wildlife and the planet will suffer. By turning off your lights for Earth Hour you're helping us send a signal to world leaders that we want to fight climate change together and we must do it now.
On Saturday, March 28, from 8:30-9:30 PM local time hundreds of millions of people, businesses and cities around the world will turn off their lights for Earth Hour.  Can I count on you to join WWF and me in showing a commitment to climate change action?  
Take two easy steps to get involved:
1. Tell us you'll do it. It's important we know how many people are participating because we report this number to leaders across the globe as a show of support for strong climate action.
2. Turn off your lights on Saturday, March 28, at 8:30 PM wherever you are and be a part of Earth Hour with millions of people around the globe, committing to a better future. 
We know you care about our planet as much as we do, so we hope you'll join us and make this Earth Hour bigger than ever. 

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Other voices: Drone victim

A 13-year-old boy killed in Yemen last month by a CIA drone strike had told the Guardian just months earlier that he lived in constant fear of the “death machines” in the sky that had already killed his father and brother.

“I see them every day and we are scared of them,” said Mohammed Tuaiman, speaking from al-Zur village in Marib province, where he died two weeks ago.

“A lot of the kids in this area wake up from sleeping because of nightmares from them and some now have mental problems. They turned our area into hell and continuous horror, day and night, we even dream of them in our sleep.”

Much of Mohammed’s life was spent living in fear of drone strikes. In 2011 an unmanned combat drone killed his father and teenage brother as they were out herding the family’s camels.
The drone that would kill Mohammed struck on 26 January in Hareeb, about an hour from his home. The drone hit the car carrying the teenager, his brother-in-law Abdullah Khalid al-Zindani and a third man.
“I saw all the bodies completely burned, like charcoal,” Mohammed’s older brother Maqded said. “When we arrived we couldn’t do anything. We couldn’t move the bodies so we just buried them there, near the car.”

Several anonymous US government officials told Reuters that the strike had been carried out by the CIA and had killed “three men believed to be al-Qaida militants”. Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) claimed responsibility for the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris last month.


What horrifying things we have allowed our government to do. What can I do to stop them?  I just don't know. Letters and phone calls and protests have not worked. Maybe I need to join the protesters who are going to jail for trying to stop the drone bombings. I don't see that working either, but I do respect their choices and living by the dictates of their conscience. 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Other voices: Diane Randall, FCNL

Dear President Obama,

Like millions of Americans, I'm looking forward to hearing you deliver the State of the Union address tonight.

And like millions of Americans, I look forward to hearing about initiatives that will make the quality of life better for people in this country: those who are poor and aspire for better lives, and those who are clinging to the notion of middle class status but who are losing ground. I also look forward to what you can say about peace and true security for this country, and how we can promote those ideals throughout the world.

My work with the Friends Committee on National Legislation ties together many concerns of Quakers committed to living our faith though action to make the world a better place. Your leadership and that of Congress are essential to the aspirations of people in this country and across the globe for peace and justice.

Economic Justice

I'm encouraged by the early reports of your ideas for taxing the inheritance and capital gains on those who are most able to afford increases. When we can help our neighbors who are struggling to patch together child care in order to work or who can’t afford to pay the rent –these people in our community often can't imagine a chance for college--for themselves or their children.

We live in a country where half of all students in public schools are poor, as measured by participation in free and reduced lunch. This is stunning, disturbing, and has ramifications for our nation’s children as well as the opportunities these students have as they grow into adulthood.

State and local governments bear a heavy burden for delivering high quality education for all children, but especially for those from disadvantaged backgrounds. Your action, with the support of Congress, to help in this area would be a prudent investment in the future workforce of our country and could make a big impact in the lives of millions of families.

One of your proposals, universal preschool for 3 and 4 year olds, would be a positive step to assure that young children from all backgrounds have the opportunity for an enriched learning environment. Another proposal, free tuition at community colleges, is also a positive step, particularly when those who are attending and have low incomes have adequate resources for the support to be a successful student, including food, housing, transportation.

We know that public policies that help working families have adequate income to provide a home, food, health care and opportunity for their children are good public investments. Your support for the earned income tax credit and child care tax credits and for raising the federal minimum wage are all significant actions that can provide stability in peoples' lives.

Racial Justice

Racial disparities in policing and throughout the criminal justice system have increasingly been confronting the consciences of all. The deaths of Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Michael Brown and others gained widespread national attention to this problem that has been evident to the communities most affected for years.

The structural problems of racial injustice and the resulting fear and mistrust that pervade communities of color cannot be fixed with any single action, but your attention to how federal resources are directed to local law enforcement bodies is an important step. Reining in the Pentagon's 1033 program, which sends military gear to our cities, towns, campuses and rural communities, can help our police forces stay focused on the all-vital nature of community policing and reject militarized responses.

Pressing for legislation that has bi-partisan support to reduce the travesty of mass incarceration through sentencing reform is another way to address systemic racial injustice, and I hope you'll speak in support of actions your administration will make to advance this disparity.


The executive action you took last fall was a step in the right direction toward fair and compassionate solutions for immigrants, many of whom are refugees fleeing violence. Now, your call for nonpartisan congressional action to support a pathway to legal status is essential for continued progress. Deportation is simply impractical and immoral. I urge you to reject the push to further militarize our borders. Instead, in the spirit of compassion, we encourage security for all families, including refugees of unimaginable violence, many of whom are children.

Energy and Environment

Quakers and many people of faith carry an abiding concern for the welfare of humankind and the planet we live on. We carry this moral voice in our dialogue with Congress and we urge you to speak to the imperative need for increasing action for international climate action. The agreement you announced a few weeks ago with China to reduce carbon output has far-reaching implications. This is a huge step to addressing the alarming climate disruption that is costing U.S. loss of life and billions of dollars right now and that puts our planet in peril.

The more that you can do in your final two years in office to reduce U.S. energy use and dependence on fossil fuels and to accelerate a global response to similar reductions, will be a legacy for our children and their children and beyond. The Green Climate Fund, a U.N. fund designed to assist developing countries in adaptation and mitigation practices to counter climate change, will be one way to ensure that countries around the globe will have resources to address the problems that cause and are caused by climate change.

Your promotion of investment in renewable energy that protects our natural resources is another way to fuel the economy with new jobs and protect our planet.

Peace and Security

Current negotiations with Iran are still moving towards an agreement to guard against a nuclear-armed Iran and another war. Your leadership in diplomacy to bring a peaceful resolution to a longstanding confrontation and to establish relationships with Iran that advance diplomatic relations is hugely important for the Middle East and for progress in nuclear non-proliferation. FCNL has worked with thousands of people across the country who have communicated with their members of Congress to keep the space open for diplomacy with Iran, and we will continue to press that message assertively in our efforts to prevent war and the threat of war.

In past years, you proposed and realized Congress support for significant investments in nuclear non-proliferation to secure the so-called "loose nukes." This program has made the world a safer place, and I hope you will propose new resources. In the next few years, our country is facing an unprecedented demand to spend billions of dollars to modernize and refurbish our nuclear weapons systems. Now is the time to give this investment a very hard look and make choices about which of these Cold War weapons can be eliminated. One system that can be cut now is the refurbishment of the B-61 tactical nuclear bomb that is deployed in Europe.

Cutting the Pentagon's budget may be one of the most prudent actions you could take to restore fiscal discipline in federal government spending. While the Budget Control Act has capped the ever-expanding increases in the Pentagon's budget over the past several years, the Overseas Contingency Operations Account--the multi-billion appropriation for fighting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan--has become the slush fund for new U.S. military operations in countries with violent conflict. This method of funneling so-called "security assistance" needs open and transparent consideration with consideration to its effectiveness or ethical basis for U.S. foreign policy.

Your call to repeal the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force would be a bold statement in acknowledging that war is not the answer. In many speeches, you have said as much, yet your reluctance of your administration to let go of this overly broad law, passed in the raw days following 9/11, has fueled military actions by the United States that we have come to regret. The use of lethal drone strikes, justified by this overly broad law, in Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan, Afghanistan create the status of endless war.

In addition to a clear statement that you support Congress in repealing the 2001 AUMF, your willingness to reiterate your commitment to close Guantanamo would be a powerful message to the world and to the people of the United States that the continued operation of this prison undermines our country's belief in human rights and due process. Your leadership that recognizes the need to right the wrongs of the past including holding those Americans responsible for conducting torture accountable for their actions.

Finally, we commend the work of peacebuilding as a cornerstone of U.S. foreign policy and as a method to de-escalate U.S. military involvement and foreign assistance that funds the militaries and militias of other states and non-state actors. Through the leadership of our State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development, our work to prevent and end violent conflict must tap the knowledge of locally-based civilian leaders and activists committed to non-violence as a first step. Your commitment to do all in within the power of the U.S. to prevent violent conflict should be the highest priority for an ethical and effective foreign policy.

Diane Randall, Executive Secretary

Friends Committee on National Legislation

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Spring Rising 2015, Part two

 This photo was taken on Thursday March 19, after Cindy Sheehan lead a bus tour of war criminal sites in the DC area. 

 Panel discussion at the workshop on Friday March 20. It snowed that morning, but we still managed to take the bus and subway to UDC for the all day workshop.

 Michael McPherson

 Evening panel at the workshop. I got to meet Raid Jarrar for the first time. I met his mother years ago. They are Iraqis, no longer living in Iraq. 
Raid said all his family had left Iraq or died, 
just like all the other upper middle class people in Iraq.

 Saturday rally before the march from the White House to the Congress. 
There was about 200 at the rally and march.

 Vets for Peace

Coffins left at a military contractor office to remind them that their profits came from killing.

Spring Rising Teach-In Schedule

Here was the schedule at the teach-in on Friday March 20, 2015.


11:00 am – 9:30 pm Teach-In
Organized by World Can't Wait
UDC David A. Clarke School of Law
4340 Connecticut Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20008

11:00 – 12:30: From Ukraine to ISIS to Drones: Why We Must Demilitarize US Foreign Policy. 
Speakers: Marjorie Cohn, Matthew Hoh, Raymond McGovern

1:00 – 2:30  Stopping Targeted Killing by the U.S. Around the World & Stopping Killing with Impunity by U.S. Police;  Connections & Challenges 
Speakers: Marsha Coleman-Abedayo, Hands-Up Coalition; Carl Dix, Revolutionary Communist Party &Stop Mass Incarceration Network; Kymone Freeman, WE ACT Radio; Eugene Puryear, ANSWER Coalition; Debra Sweet, World Can't Wait

3:00 – 4:30:  End These Endless Wars: Perspectives from Veterans and Military Families 
Speakers: Kevin Lucey, MFSO; Michael McPhearson, Executive Director of VFP; Maggie Martin, IVAW

5-6:30  World Beyond War: An Alternative Global Security System 
Speakers: David Swanson, Matthew Hoh, Robert Fantina 

7:00 - 9:00  U.S. Wars of Aggression and Islamic Jihad: What is the Danger, and How Should the Anti-war Movement Respond?  
Speakers: Brian Becker, ANSWER Coalition; William Blum, author: Alan Goodman, writer for; Raed Jarrar, Policy Impact Coordinator at the American Friends Service Committee; Cindy Sheehan

Monday, March 23, 2015

Spring Rising 2015

These are photos of Code Pink actions on Thursday March 19, 2015. They visited Senator Cotton's office and also Senator McCain and Senator Menendez.

War of aggression - 12 year anniversary