Sunday, July 27, 2014

Upcoming events in the Asheville area this week

“Cash Crop” is an emotionally moving and historical glimpse of the bondage endured by more than 15 million slaves during the trans-Atlantic slave trade by sculptor Stephen Hayes. The exhibition, which features 15 life-size sculptures of human beings in shackles, invites viewers to enter an emotional, physical, and psychic space to confront the past, present, and future. Admission is $6 for adults, free for students through 12th grade. This will run until August 27, 2014. Location is Ray Auditorium at the YMI Cultural Center at 39 South Market Street in Asheville. For more information please contact Sharon at 
The Swain County Coalition against Fracking and the Watershed Association of the Tuckasegee River (WATR) are sponsoring a series of videos on Hydraulic Fracturing (fracking). We invite everyone to view this extraordinary documentary depicting what can happen to our environment and how our property values will be affected if fracking is forced on us. Come stand with us in the fight against fracking. “Triple Divide” will be shown at Marianna Black Library in Bryson City at 7 PM and it will be shown at Mad Batter in Sylva at 6:30 PM. Both are free.

Enjoy delicious and locally sourced varieties of craft hard apple cider. Sample 3 Urban Orchard Ciders paired with an offering of dips, cheeses and meats from local purveyors. Gain a deeper understanding of the delicate process of this historic beverage during a private tour of the Cidery led by industry professionals. Time is 5 to 7 PM and location is Urban Orchard Cider Company at 210 Haywood Road in Asheville. Suggested donation of $15 per person at the door. RSVP to Betsy by calling 828-210-3444 or emailing

A CTS of Asheville Community Meeting, sponsored by POWER Action Group, will take place at the Roberson High school Auditorium in south Asheville on Tuesday, July 29 from 6 to 7:30 PM. The theme is "Focus on the Future" and will emphasize movement toward cleanup efforts at the Superfund Site. Due to roadside construction, the high school auditorium should be accessed from Springside Road. This was on Facebook under “The Road to Clean-Up”.  

An investigation of impacts from fracking in Pennsylvania, “Triple Divide” has been called “a bombshell that could reverberate across the state.” It will tour across the country June thru November thanks to a grant from the Investigative News Network with support from the Knight Foundation. The team will cover over 10,000 miles in a Tesla Motors Model S, a long-range, all-electric sedan, and use the company’s nationwide Supercharger system where the electric cars can be quickly recharged for free. The directors aim to cross the U.S. using zero gasoline and emitting zero greenhouse gas pollution. It screens July 30 at 7 PM at Mad Batter in Sylva. Hosted by Clean Water for North Carolina and Western North Carolina Alliance.

May 2014 saw the release of the third National Climate Assessment (, the most authoritative and comprehensive report to date on climate change and its impacts in the United States. On Thursday, July 31, the Arboretum will host Laura Stevens, a research scientist with the Cooperative Institute for Climate and Satellites, North Carolina, based at NOAA's National Climatic Data Center in Asheville. She will address the National Climate Assessment, including how the it came about, its goals and outcomes, and the process involved in creating the report. Her presentation will include a look at past trends in U.S. temperature and precipitation, as well as future climate projections, with a focus on the Southeastern United States. The presentation is free and open to the public, however normal parking fees apply. Location is NC Arboretum at Education Center Auditorium.  Members always park free. Time is 6 PM. For more information please call Beth Ross Johnson at (828) 665-2492.

The Water Sustainability Initiative and Lenoir-Rhyne University are planning a water forum for the general public to address local water concerns. We are planning to address the heavy rains this year and last year, the Asheville water system, the CTS site, the Hominy Creek spill, and the coal ash ponds. It is planned to be a positive, answer-oriented event with demonstrations and solutions from the Water Sustainability Initiative. The Water Sustainability Initiative promotes the use of plants, earthworks, tanks, and community engagement to address water issues with improved rain water management and a whole-system approach. Time is 6 PM to 9 PM and location is Lenoir-Rhyne Board Room at 36 Montford Avenue in Asheville. 

Asheville Fine Arts Theatre will show "Triple Divide" screening with Q&A with the filmmakers. Co-sponsored by Clean Water for NC and WNC Alliance. Regular admission charges apply. Time is 7 PM. See film description under 07/30/14.

This visit is to discuss Israel and Palestine issues, particularly the brutal assault on Gaza recently. This is a pro-Palestinian meeting. (If you are on the other side of the issue, I want to encourage you to set up a separate visit with Senator Hagan’s staff.) Please contact Susan if you wish to come on this visit. 

Time to motivate and create posters for the August fracking events. If you’d like to join us and create, build or just provide support, join us! Feel free to bring your beautiful mind, art supplies, your unicorn, sign-making materials, a few favorite fracking protest sayings, a sense of humor and your favorite libation! Time is 5 to 7 PM and location is Ty’s place. This was posted on Facebook under “Protest Poster Creation Party”. 

Meeting will be held at the YWCA on South French Broad Avenue in Asheville. These meetings will be on the first Sunday of the month, and will start at 2 PM. At this meeting, Asheville Chapter of the National Organization of Women will discuss how you can use your voice, how they are responding to national events, and how the ERA campaign is coming along.  For more information contact

Join folks from across the region and state for another energizing and inspiring Mountain Moral Monday - “Moral March to the Polls Rally” on August 4, from 5-6:30 PM at Pack Square Park in downtown Asheville. The Mountain People’s Assembly, a coalition of WNC organizations, and regional WNC NAACP Branches, will host the return of Mountain Moral Monday, a non-partisan program that will highlight the destructive policies enacted by the N.C. statehouse over the past year while strongly focusing on the voter empowerment campaign, “Moral March to the Polls.” The event will feature Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II, President of the NC NAACP and other guest speakers, as well as musical entertainment. Westsound and blues and jazz great Kat Williams will headline the musical part of the rally.  In addition, there will be opportunities for participants to get involved in voter registration, education and Get-Out-The-Vote (GOTV) efforts during the current mid-term election cycle. ‘Moral Freedom Summer’ Organizers and volunteers will be available to help register voters. To sign on as a supporter or for more information, email info@mountainmoralmonday.

This will be on the first floor conference room at Asheville City Hall. Time is 3:30 PM to 5 PM. 

Sierra Club will present "Birds around the World" with Simon Thompson, world renowned birding expert, on Wed, August 6 at 7 PM. Free, open to the public. Location is the Unitarian Universalist Congregation at 1 Edwin Place and Charlotte Street in Asheville. Contact Judy at or 828-683-2176 for more information.

MABCO and the Unitarian Universalist Church Swannanoa Valley are co-sponsoring a free documentary series and the final showing will be of “The Story of Citizens United v. FEC”. Learn about the nationwide campaign to amend the Constitution to return corporations to their earlier state when they were not given the rights of citizens, when money wasn’t speech and when Congress could regulate money in politics. Sponsored by Move to Amend Buncombe County, and the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the Swannanoa Valley Social Action. Two videos: Citizens United vs. FEC and Citizens United in North Carolina.The films will be shown at the church, located at 500 Montreat Road in Black Mountain.  Doors open at 6:30 PM and the showing starts at 7 PM. Free of charge. This was posted on Facebook under “Move to Amend Video Series”.

The Traveling Bonfires presents Bonfire for Peace at Prichard Park in Asheville. This is a free concert event for the family and the community, featuring Peace Jones, Pipapelli, Lyric, and Riyen Roots. Time is 4 PM to 9 PM. The Traveling Bonfires roam the country, ushering arts and music events and bringing people together in celebration of peace and multicultural connectedness. For more info, call Marta at 828-280-2309 or

Hello friends, this is a special invite to Authentic Sustainability: Pitfalls, Pathways and Paradox in Conversation for a Better World:) Time is 2 to 5 PM and location is in downtown Asheville. WNC Frack Free University proudly brings you a special workshop for core-organizers only.  This is a collaborative event between WNC Frack Free and the Creative Facilitators. There are only 30 spots so RSVP now.  Contact Ty for more information, including how to register, at

Time is 7 PM and location is North Asheville Library. Call Ruth at 232-2883 or email for more information.

The movie “Gasland 2” will be shown by the SCCAF – Swain County Coalition Against Fracking. They are presenting a series of educational movies on the dangers of hydraulic fracturing. The Coalition urges everyone to come view this extraordinary documentary depicting what happens to our environment and property values if fracking is forced on  upon good citizens like us. Community awareness and involvement is much needed. Free. This will be held at the Nantahala Brewery on Depot Street in Bryson City at 7 PM.

We cordially invite you to join us for Our VOICE’s 40th Anniversary Celebration, 40 Years of Starting Conversations featuring keynote speaker Anita Hill, Brandeis University Professor of Law. Ms. Hill started a national conversation by disclosing her experience of workplace sexual harassment which focused the country’s attention on a difficult topic often met with avoidance and silence. Welcome Reception starts at 6:00 PM / Program starts at 7:00 PM. Location is Diana Wortham Theatre in Asheville. You can purchase tickets online or at Our VOICE, Malaprops and aSHEville Museum. For more information regarding our event, please contact us at

Time is 7 PM and location is North Asheville Library. Call Ruth at 232-2883 or email for more information.

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 Vance Monument 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.


Subject: Peace & Justice Ministry   We need You

St. Margaret Mary Catholic Church is forming a Peace and Justice Ministry. This will be open to the entire community from Old Fort thru the Swannanoa Valley to Asheville, and to any person of faith, not only Roman Catholics.  First, the advisors will be from many faiths; the members and mailing list subscribers may be from any faith; activity Group Organizers will be Advisors or St.MM members.  We strongly believe that an ecumenical group will be more effective than a Roman Catholic only group.  Your input of a small amount of time will greatly benefit the entire community.

We would like you to engage with us in any capacity that you wish.  Please reply by typing in:
Activity Leader:
Event Participant:
Mailing List Subscriber only:

You may phone me at 828 280 8194 any time.
Phil Bisesi



Status of the Coal Ash Bill

Different versions of the coal ash bill - S 729 “Coal Ash Management Act of 2014” have passed both the House and the Senate, but Senator Apodaca (R - Buncombe, Henderson, Transylvania), who is taking the lead on the coal ash bill in the Senate, has said that the Senate will vote not to concur on the bill because changes are needed. Specifically, he noted that he would like changes to:
 1) the variance procedure added by the House that would allow the Secretary of DENR to grant an extension to deadlines in the bill;  and 
2) the agency location and makeup of the Coal Ash Management Commission.

Procedurally, after the Senate votes to not concur - the coal ash bill will go to conference - which means that House and Senate leaders will appoint legislator conferees who will meet in private to iron out differences and come up with a final bill. 

A major environmental concern remaining in regards to the coal ash bill is the lack of clear standards to ensure that all closure methods are protective of groundwater near coal ash sites. All 33 coal ash ponds at 14 coal plants in North Carolina are leaking toxic heavy metals into the groundwater.  Without clear guidelines, this bill could allow coal ash at 10 of these plant sites to stay in place, continuing to pollute our groundwater, lakes, and rivers.

Please contact your legislator asking them to add clear standards to the coal ash bill to ensure that any closure method allowed is protective of groundwater near coal ash sites.

Please contact State Legislators:
Buncombe County: -- 919-715-3012 -- 919-733-5746
Haywood, Madison, Yancey Counties: -- 919-733-5732
Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Macon Counties: -- 919-733-5859


Saturday, July 26, 2014

Open letter to Gaza

Copyright © 2014 Elsevier Ltd All rights reserved.

An open letter for the people in Gaza

We are doctors and scientists, who spend our lives developing means to care and protect health and lives. We are also informed people; we teach the ethics of our professions, together with the knowledge and practice of it. We all have worked in and known the situation of Gaza for years.
On the basis of our ethics and practice, we are denouncing what we witness in the aggression of Gaza by Israel.

We ask our colleagues, old and young professionals, to denounce this Israeli aggression. We challenge the perversity of a propaganda that justifies the creation of an emergency to masquerade a massacre, a so-called “defensive aggression”. In reality it is a ruthless assault of unlimited duration, extent, and intensity. We wish to report the facts as we see them and their implications on the lives of the people.

We are appalled by the military onslaught on civilians in Gaza under the guise of punishing terrorists. This is the third large scale military assault on Gaza since 2008. Each time the death toll is borne mainly by innocent people in Gaza, especially women and children under the unacceptable pretext of Israel eradicating political parties and resistance to the occupation and siege they impose.

This action also terrifies those who are not directly hit, and wounds the soul, mind, and resilience of the young generation. Our condemnation and disgust are further compounded by the denial and prohibition for Gaza to receive external help and supplies to alleviate the dire circumstances.
The blockade on Gaza has tightened further since last year and this has worsened the toll on Gaza's population. In Gaza, people suffer from hunger, thirst, pollution, shortage of medicines, electricity, and any means to get an income, not only by being bombed and shelled. Power crisis, gasoline shortage, water and food scarcity, sewage outflow and ever decreasing resources are disasters caused directly and indirectly by the siege.

People in Gaza are resisting this aggression because they want a better and normal life and, even while crying in sorrow, pain, and terror, they reject a temporary truce that does not provide a real chance for a better future. A voice under the attacks in Gaza is that of Um Al Ramlawi who speaks for all in Gaza: “They are killing us all anyway—either a slow death by the siege, or a fast one by military attacks. We have nothing left to lose—we must fight for our rights, or die trying.”

Gaza has been blockaded by sea and land since 2006. Any individual of Gaza, including fishermen venturing beyond 3 nautical miles of the coast of Gaza, face being shot by the Israeli Navy. No one from Gaza can leave from the only two checkpoints, Erez or Rafah, without special permission from the Israelis and the Egyptians, which is hard to come by for many, if not impossible. People in Gaza are unable to go abroad to study, work, visit families, or do business. Wounded and sick people cannot leave easily to get specialised treatment outside Gaza. Entries of food and medicines into Gaza have been restricted and many essential items for survival are prohibited.3 Before the present assault, medical stock items in Gaza were already at an all time low because of the blockade.3 They have run out now. Likewise, Gaza is unable to export its produce. Agriculture has been severely impaired by the imposition of a buffer zone, and agricultural products cannot be exported due to the blockade. 80% of Gaza's population is dependent on food rations from the UN.

Much of Gaza's buildings and infrastructure had been destroyed during Operation Cast Lead, 2008—09, and building materials have been blockaded so that schools, homes, and institutions cannot be properly rebuilt. Factories destroyed by bombardment have rarely been rebuilt adding unemployment to destitution.

Despite the difficult conditions, the people of Gaza and their political leaders have recently moved to resolve their conflicts “without arms and harm” through the process of reconciliation between factions, their leadership renouncing titles and positions, so that a unity government can be formed abolishing the divisive factional politics operating since 2007. This reconciliation, although accepted by many in the international community, was rejected by Israel. The present Israeli attacks stop this chance of political unity between Gaza and the West Bank and single out a part of the Palestinian society by destroying the lives of people of Gaza. Under the pretext of eliminating terrorism, Israel is trying to destroy the growing Palestinian unity. Among other lies, it is stated that civilians in Gaza are hostages of Hamas whereas the truth is that the Gaza Strip is sealed by the Israelis and Egyptians.

Gaza has been bombed continuously for the past 14 days followed now by invasion on land by tanks and thousands of Israeli troops. More than 60 000 civilians from Northern Gaza were ordered to leave their homes. These internally displaced people have nowhere to go since Central and Southern Gaza are also subjected to heavy artillery bombardment. The whole of Gaza is under attack. The only shelters in Gaza are the schools of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), uncertain shelters already targeted during Cast Lead, killing many.

According to Gaza Ministry of Health and UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA),1 as of July 21, 149 of the 558 killed in Gaza and 1100 of the 3504 wounded are children. Those buried under the rubble are not counted yet. As we write, the BBC reports of the bombing of another hospital, hitting the intensive care unit and operating theatres, with deaths of patients and staff. There are now fears for the main hospital Al Shifa. Moreover, most people are psychologically traumatised in Gaza. Anyone older than 6 years has already lived through their third military assault by Israel.

The massacre in Gaza spares no one, and includes the disabled and sick in hospitals, children playing on the beach or on the roof top, with a large majority of non-combatants. Hospitals, clinics, ambulances, mosques, schools, and press buildings have all been attacked, with thousands of private homes bombed, clearly directing fire to target whole families killing them within their homes, depriving families of their homes by chasing them out a few minutes before destruction. An entire area was destroyed on July 20, leaving thousands of displaced people homeless, beside wounding hundreds and killing at least 70—this is way beyond the purpose of finding tunnels. None of these are military objectives. These attacks aim to terrorise, wound the soul and the body of the people, and make their life impossible in the future, as well as also demolishing their homes and prohibiting the means to rebuild.

Weaponry known to cause long-term damages on health of the whole population are used; particularly non fragmentation weaponry and hard-head bombs.4, 5 We witnessed targeted weaponry used indiscriminately and on children and we constantly see that so-called intelligent weapons fail to be precise, unless they are deliberately used to destroy innocent lives.
We denounce the myth propagated by Israel that the aggression is done caring about saving civilian lives and children's wellbeing.

Israel's behaviour has insulted our humanity, intelligence, and dignity as well as our professional ethics and efforts. Even those of us who want to go and help are unable to reach Gaza due to the blockade.

This “defensive aggression” of unlimited duration, extent, and intensity must be stopped.
Additionally, should the use of gas be further confirmed, this is unequivocally a war crime for which, before anything else, high sanctions will have to be taken immediately on Israel with cessation of any trade and collaborative agreements with Europe.

As we write, other massacres and threats to the medical personnel in emergency services and denial of entry for international humanitarian convoys are reported.6 We as scientists and doctors cannot keep silent while this crime against humanity continues. We urge readers not to be silent too. Gaza trapped under siege, is being killed by one of the world's largest and most sophisticated modern military machines. The land is poisoned by weapon debris, with consequences for future generations. If those of us capable of speaking up fail to do so and take a stand against this war crime, we are also complicit in the destruction of the lives and homes of 1·8 million people in Gaza.

We register with dismay that only 5% of our Israeli academic colleagues signed an appeal to their government to stop the military operation against Gaza. We are tempted to conclude that with the exception of this 5%, the rest of the Israeli academics are complicit in the massacre and destruction of Gaza. We also see the complicity of our countries in Europe and North America in this massacre and the impotence once again of the international institutions and organisations to stop this massacre.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014


“In keeping silent about evil, in burying it so deep within us that no sign of it appears on the surface, we are implanting it, and it will rise up a thousand fold in the future. When we neither punish nor reproach evildoers, we are not simply protecting their trivial old age, we are thereby ripping the foundations of justice from beneath new generations.” ~ Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn  

“Denouncing evil is a far cry from doing good.” ~ Philip Gourevitch 

“Indifference to evil is more insidious than evil itself. … Few are guilty, but all are responsible.” ~ Rabbi Abraham Heschel

“When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time, they can seem invincible, but in the end, they always fall. Think of it--always.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi

“Never open the door to a lesser evil, for other and greater ones invariably slink in after it.” ~ Baltasar Gracian