Monday, June 29, 2009

Faiza speaks in Asheville

Faiza gave a presentation last night at Asheville Friends Meeting. We had about 30-35 people show up to hear about what has happened in Iraq and the projects Faiza is working on. One project is a water treatment project, which is funded for Veterans for Peace. This was started in the 1990’s and has recently been revived, since clean and safe drinking water is a problem in many areas of Iraq.

The other project Faiza is working on is the ‘sewing machine project’ which the local Vets for Peace and Peace & Earth Committee of Asheville Friends Meeting have taken up as a cause. This project will get sewing machines and materials to Iraqi widows, so that they can make clothes for their children and families, and then make clothing to sell on a market. The sewing machines are able to be powered by foot treadle.

Faiza talks about her project on this blog post.

The reason Vets for Peace and Peace & Earth Committee have taken up this project is to help mitigate (to some small degree) the damage that was caused by the US invasion and occupation of Iraq. The Veterans for Peace believe that this is the route to peace: to build community and sustainability. We are asking all of our community to give any moral, spiritual or financial support that they are able to give for this project to help Iraqi widows. Donations to Veterans for Peace are tax deductible. Checks can be mailed to Veterans for Peace, PO Box 456, Mars Hill, NC 28754. Please mark “Iraq sewing project” on the check.

Donations can be made by Pay Pal at their website – under the Afghanistan orphanage Fund. Even though the website says for Afghani orphanage (a former project the Veterans did that was quite successful) the money will now go to the Iraq sewing project (the website has not been updated yet).

Friday, June 26, 2009

Upcoming event on Sunday 6-28-09

My house guest this upcoming weekend:

The WNC Veterans for Peace and Peace & Earth Committee of Asheville Friends Meeting welcomes
Faiza Al Araji, who will speak on:

Iraq from the eyes of an Iraqi mother”

Sunday, June 28, 6 pm

Asheville Friends Meeting

227 Edgewood Road

Asheville, NC

Faiza Al Araji was living in Baghdad in March, 2003 with her three sons and husband. She stayed in her hometown until the security situation became unbearable, and then moved to Jordan. She has been working tirelessly since then to help Iraqis – both refugees and those who stayed in their homes – to recover from the conditions that resulted from the US invasion and occupation. She has worked with Veterans for Peace on water treatment projects during the years of sanctions. She is working today on getting micro-economic projects organized for Iraqi widows, so that they can be self-sufficient. She will talk about what has happened in Iraq, how conditions are today for Iraqis, and how to build hope for the future. This is event is free and open to the public, donations to assist in the micro-economics project will be gratefully accepted.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Iraq 2009

Hold the Criminals Accountable!

Letter I sent to Obama, Reid, Pelosi, Conyers (in honor of this day)

The American people deserve to know what was done in our names with our tax dollars. We also need to hold those who tortured and murdered accountable, so that we can join the civilized nations of the world.

The US Constitution demands this.

Human decency demands this.

I demand this.

I am tired of being ashamed of my country.

We need to have a full investigation of torture, kidnappings, murders and wars of aggression that the US has been involved in since 2001. It astonishes me that 19 guys with box cutters could take us down this road to immorality and on this march of folly. I would never have thought we were so weak. And if we do not investigate and prosecute the people who were responsible, we will never be a country worthy of respect again.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


This is a video of conditions in Afghanistan. If you want to help Afghanis, please support Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan. They are a wonderful organization.

Interview with Father Louie Vitale

Father Vitale gave a presentation in Asheville on 6-21-09, and he was my house guest over the weekend. I think this video -- done in 2007 -- pretty much sums up what he is about and why he is such a peace activist. He also talks about his protest against torture. Father Vitale was in Iran a couple of months ago, and he is going to Japan for the anniversaries of the bombings in Japan in 1945.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Upcoming event on Sunday 6-21-09

This weekend, I will have a house guest:

Circle of Peace NC Speaking Tour June 22-25, 2009 With Fr. Louie Vitale

How do we relate with individuals and countries that believe differently than we do? How do we deal with our so-called enemies? Is torture morally acceptable? How do we respond to terrorism?

Father Louie Vitale has been grappling with these and other related questions for nearly half a century since he began his journey as a young man when he had a conversion to nonviolence after he left the Air Force. A Franciscan priest and former provincial of the California Franciscan Friars, he co-founded the Nevada Desert Experience – a movement to end nuclear testing -- and Pace e Bene. He has also served as pastor of a Catholic church in a low-income neighborhood in San Francisco, CA for more than a decade. He is the Pax Christi 2009 Teacher of the Year. He and other Pace e Bene facilitators have led faith communities of many traditions in the practice and spirituality of peacemaking.

Fr. Louie has been active in anti-torture and faith-based human-rights advocacy in several paths. He served 3 and 6-month sentences for crossing the line twice at the School of Americas in Fort Benning, GA, where the U.S. trains Latin American soldiers in torture techniques. Then Louie served 5 months for crossing the line and praying at Fort Huachuca (the military installation in Arizona where the U.S. trains American Intelligence Officers in “Enhanced Interrogation” tactics such as the much- publicized water boarding, among other torture methods). Fr. Louie also recently traveled to Iran with the Fellowship of Reconciliation as part of an Iran Civilian Diplomacy Delegation to dialogue with the government and people of Iran.

Fr. Louie Vitale will be appearing at the following North Carolina venues

Asheville, Sunday, June 21, 6:00 pm
LOVE YOUR ENEMIES: Transforming Us vs. Them Thinking
Lecture Hall at Thomas A. Simpson Administration Building,

Asheville-Buncombe Technical College
340 Victoria Road, Asheville NC

Charlotte, Monday, June 22, 7:00 pm

Park Road Baptist Church, 3900 Park Rd , Charlotte

Raleigh, Tuesday, June 23, 7:00 pm
St. Francis Assisi, 11401 Leesville Rd. Raleigh

Greensboro (Stoneville), Wednesday, June 24, 7:30 pm

St. Francis Springs Prayer Center, 477 Grogan Rd. Stoneville
Complimentary supper (RSVP) 6:00pm, presentation at 7:30pm

Durham, Thursday, June 25, 12:00 Noon
Religious Coalition for a Nonviolent Durham monthly luncheon – guests welcome
Shepherd’s House Methodist Church, 107 N. Driver St, Durham

Chapel Hill, Thursday, June 25, 7:00 pm
Church of Reconciliation, 110 N. Elliot Rd. Chapel Hill


Pace e Bene’s vision is Dignity, justice, and peace for all. Its mission is to foster a just and peaceful world through nonviolent education, community-building, and action. Formed by a small group of Franciscans and others in 1989, Pace e Bene is a growing community representing a diversity of spiritual traditions and cultural backgrounds that networks with nonviolence practitioners in many parts of the world.


Asheville's event is sponsored by WNC Veterans for Peace, Asheville Friends Meeting and War Resisters League Asheville.

This is how the war came home

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Let Justice Roll!

"Let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever flowing stream."

Tonight at Nazareth First Baptist Church, there was a service held to promote a moratorium on the death penalty here in North Carolina. This was sponsored by Chrisitans for a United Community and Murder Victim’s Families for Reconciliation.

One of the main speakers was Mr. Frank Goldsmith, who was an attorney for Mr. Edward Chapman. Mr. Goldsmith talked about the trial that convicted Edward Chapman to death, and about the evidence presented and NOT presented at Chapman’s original trial that sentenced him to death for the murder of two women in Hickory back in the 1990’s. Mr. Goldsmith worked for five years (2002 to 2008) to established Mr. Chapman’s innocence in these murders and obtain his release from prison.

Mr. Chapman moved to Asheville upon his release and has lived here since then He said that he had a certain lifestyle that lead to him being accused of the murders and that he decided in prison that he wanted to be something better. He wanted to contribute something to the world. He had spent 15 years of his life on death row before he was found innocent. If there was a faster process to executing the death penalty, then this wonderful man would no longer be with us today.

He pointed out that no one benefits from the death penalty in North Carolina. No one.

The service tonight included some wonderful gospel singing and a short speech by Representative Susan Fisher, who is pictured above. She is a co-sponsor in the NC House of Representatives of a bill that would put a moratorium on the death penalty in this state.

Another speaker was Noel Nickle, who is a local organizer of this effort. She presented some ideas on calls to action. Her suggestions included writing letters to NC legislators, asking Governor Purdue to give a ‘pardon of innocence’ to Mr. Chapman so that he can receive some compensation for the 15 years he spent on death row, and donations to help stop death penalty sentences in NC. This can be directed to The North Carolina Coalition for a Moratorium. Some reasons they give for a moratorium:

An innocent person may be executed

One in six death row inmates had an attorney disciplined by the State Bar

Racial bias taints our capital punishment system

A broad cross-section of North Carolinians supports a moratorium

The death penalty as it is currently administered is arbitrary

Another organization working on these issues is People of Faith Against the Death Penalty. This is an interfaith organization whose mission is to educate and mobilize faith communities to act to abolish the death penalty.

One thing that I did not hear mentioned is that a sentence of life without parole would cost the taxpayers less than a death penalty sentence. I believe this is true, but have no readily available facts to back up the claim. If we abolish the death penalty we will no longer kill innocent people, and we will also join all the other developed countries of the world in this regard.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Petreaus admits we violated Geneva Conventions

which means we also violated the US Constitution.

We have also violated the Nuremberg Principles and the UN Convention on Torture. I really don't hink we have a US Constitution any more.