Sunday, May 31, 2015

Upcoming events for the week of May 31, 2015

Boot exhibit from American Friends Service Committee NC. This was the parish hall at All Souls in Biltmore Village, many years ago. Each pair of boots was a NC service member who was killed in Iraq. That war of aggression based on a pack of lies was such a waste.



Please join us this Monday night at Green Sage in Westgate in Asheville. Our speaker will be Darlene Azarmi, WNC Organizer with Democracy North Carolina.  Democracy NC is a nonpartisan organization that uses research, organizing, and advocacy to increase voter participation, reduce the influence of big money in politics and achieve a government that is truly of the people, by the people and for the people. Darlene grew up in WNC, which significantly shaped her political perspective. Dinner is at 5:30 PM and Ms. Azarmi will speak from 6 to 7 PM. Please RSVP with Cheryl so she can give a headcount to Green Sage. Her email is  

Imagine if the water you gave your family made them sick. This is a real fear facing communities where fracking is currently taking place. Even when landowners say no to drilling, contamination from fracking nearby can still expose them to toxic chemicals against their will. Although fracking is now legal and permits can be issued by the state, there is still much that can be done to protect North Carolinians from the dangers of fracking. This requires people coming together in their own communities and taking civic action, to stand in solidarity and send a strong message that the people of NC do not want fracking and we will work to protect our families, public health, quality of life and property rights. Join us for Fracking Stories - an event featuring six short documentaries that expose the public health and environmental consequences of hydraulic fracturing, and the ways that communities are coming together to protect their land and water. Come learn about the issues, talk with community members, and find out how you can help keep fracking out of North Carolina. The Asheville screening is co-presented by The Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League, Appalachian Voices, Clean Water for North Carolina, Working Films, The Mountain Peoples Assembly, and WNC Frack Free. Time is 7 to 9 PM and location is Ferguson Auditorium at AB Tech at 340 Victoria Street in Asheville. This event is free and open to the public. For questions, contact Andy at  

Join Mountain True staff and volunteer leaders to hear what we’re up to in Henderson, Transylvania and Polk counties and how you can be part of protecting the places we share. Location is Southern Appalachian Brwery at 822 Locust Street in Hendersonville, and time is 5:30 to 7:30 PM. Go to to RSVP.

Time is 3:30 to 5 PM and location is 1st Floor Conference Room at City Hall in Asheville. 

The discussion will be on the book “Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War On Drugs”. Time is 7 PM and location is Malaprops in downtown Asheville. This is sponsored by Veterans for Peace.

On June 2, Carolina Jews for Justice will be going orange and you can too. Just recently, many of our members expressed their opposition to a dangerous gun bill making its way through the NC Legislature. On National Gun Violence Awareness Day, wear orange to show that you think we can do more to save American lives from gun violence.

Britten Cleveland will talk on “The EPA’s Clean Power Plan and North Carolina”. Join Sierra Club on June 3 as Britten Cleveland, North Carolina’s Sierra Club organizer, discusses the Clean Power Plan and what you can do to help North Carolina reduce its carbon pollution. Under this plan North Carolina is required to develop a strategy to reduce its carbon emissions by 2030. 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.

The NC Sierra Club is working to make sure that our state develops a plan that increases our use of clean energy and energy efficiency to meet the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s new rules for reducing climate-disrupting emissions under the Clean Air Act. We need your help to get the cleanest and most just “Clean Power Plan” possible from the McCrory Administration. We are holding a training session here in Asheville on Thursday, June 4th from 5:30 to 7:30 PM at the Sierra Club Office at 45 Wall Street, Suite 709, and food will be provided. Please plan to attend to find out how you can help. Contact Britten at or 941-979-2948 to sign up or for more information.

In this two- to four-day event, participants will learn about the history and successes of Restorative Circles in action around the world, and get to actively engage in Restorative Circles through Open Space presentations, practice groups, affinity groups, and panel discussions.  This is from June 4 to June 7 at Earthaven with Dominic Barter and friends. More information and registration at this website:!welcome-to-the-conference/cf4g

Dominic Barter will talk about Restorative Circles in our Communities: Addressing conflict restoratively. Time is 7:30 PM and location is Odyssey Community School in Asheville. No information on cost. More information at

Save the date for our next monthly meeting which will always be the first Saturday of the month. In this meeting we will review the REMI report, our congressional members' bios, appoint a message day organizer, look at the laser talks and plan our lobby meetings for the DC conference June 21-24. Time is 12:30 PM to 3 PM and location is Kairos West Community Center at 742 Haywood Rd in west Asheville. For more information, contact Steffi at 828-242-3752 or

The MANNA Food Bank Blue Jean Ball is June 6th at the MANNA campus on Swannanoa River Road. Ticket includes a night of Motown music, great eats from dozens of local restaurants, and adult beverages. Get tickets at or call 299-FOOD (3663)

Faustine Wilson, daughter of the late Victoria Casey McDonald, will present Victoria’s last novel, Living in the Shadow of Slavery, at Blue Ridge Books in Waynesville. Living in the Shadow of Slavery continues the story of her great grandmother, Amanda, whose story began in the novel, Under the Lights of Darkness.  As a slave of William Holland Thomas, Amanda faces uncertain times now that the Civil War has ended and all slaves have been declared free. Having never known freedom, she and her family must make difficult decisions on how best to survive in this new existence. Faustine will also discuss a bit of the history of slavery in western North Carolina and the legacy of Victoria. Living in the Shadow of Slavery with Faustine Wilson, Saturday, June 6 at 3 PM at Blue Ridge Books at 152 S. Main Street in Waynesville. Call 828-456-6000 for more information.

Next meeting is a general meeting will be held at the North Asheville Library on Merrimon Avenue. If you have any questions please contact Diana at

Transition Asheville Social - Keystones in Sustainable Systems: Partnering with Beneficial Microorganisms by Professor Dee Eggers from UNCA. Dee Eggers is an Associate Professor in UNC Asheville’s Environmental Studies Department.  She is profoundly interested in all things sustainability-related, from sustainable models of industry to ecosystem restoration.  In this talk, she will focus on beneficial soil microorganisms and their use in improving soil and plant health, food production, human health, and a few interesting sidebars – like how one treatment can cause hornets to abandon their nests and leave no toxic residue.  (True!)  She will also briefly address optimal ratios of bacteria and fungal communities at various stages of succession and how to use that information for food production and ecosystem restoration. Time is 6:30 to 8 PM. Location is Parish Hall at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church at 337 Charlotte Street in Asheville. Parking lot in the lot next to the church off Evelyn Alley (north of church) or on the street. 

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

NC State Board of Elections Public Hearings on Voter ID Rules will be held in Sylva at 876 Skyland Drive, Suite 1. Time is 5 to 7 PM. This is one of only two hearings in our area (the other one in Boone on 6/10/15) that will occur on the “Voter ID” (HB 589) rules that will come into effect in 2016. Some key facts are: the bill not only requires government-issued ID at the polls, but takes away one week of early voting, eliminates pre-registration of 16-17 year olds,terminates out-of-precinct voting, and eliminates same-day voter registration during the early voting period. If  you know of an individual who has encountered problems with getting an ID, please urge them to speak- as these are the stories we need the SBOE rule-makers to hear. Democracy NC is seeking individuals to attend the hearing and make public comments. Democracy NC will organize a carpool from the Asheville area. Please email or call (828)216-3430 for more information or to find out how to RSVP.

Stories of Resilience  - A report on the experience of the Christian Peace Maker Team in Hebron, Palestine. Christian Peacemaker Teams Palestine is a faith-based organization that supports Palestinian-led, non-violent, grassroots resistance to the Israeli occupation and the unjust structures that uphold it. By collaborating with local Palestinian and Israeli peacemakers and educating people in our home communities, we strive to help create a space for justice and peace. Presentation by Rachel, an Asheville activist and member of Circle of Mercy. This will be held at Asheville Friends Meeting at 227 Edgewood Road in Asheville. Time is 7 PM. This is sponsored by Just Peace Israel/Palestine. For more information, call 828-319-7652.   

“Call of the Ancient Mariner” is a  documentary film by MountainTrue alumni David Weintraub, which covers the role of the turtle through out history and its ties to humanity. A paneled discussion on conservation and the environment will take place following the film. This will take place at NC Arboretum at 6:30 PM. Please call 828-692-8062 for more information, including how to buy tickets.

We hope to see you for hors d’ouevres, drink, music and forests! Join us in Asheville to help us kick off the SOS (Save Our Southern Forests) Tour! The biomass industry is destroying wetland forests and exporting them to Europe. We’ve proven it, and communities across the South are uniting to stop it. Across five Southern states, we'll be holding fun and interactive visibility events, diverse community meetings, profiling destructive wood pellet manufacturing facilities, and documenting the beautiful Southern forests we’re working to protect. This is hosted by the Dogwood Alliance. Time is 6 PM and location is Jonas Gerard Gallery at 191 Lyman Street, Suite 144 in Asheville. This is the Riverview Station Gallery. Go to to register.

Join MountainTrue at Southern Appalachian Brewery from 6 to 8 PM for Green Drinks. Grab a beer and join like-minded individuals to discuss environmental issues and hear presentations by local environmental leaders.

Creation Care Alliance general meeting with guest climatologist Deke Arndt. Time is 5:30 to 7 PM and location is First Baptist Church at 5 Oak Street in Asheville. All are welcome as we celebrate new partner congregations and connect about several summer opportunities. 

“Call of the Ancient Mariner” is a  documentary film by MountainTrue alumni David Weintraub, which covers the role of the turtle through out history and its ties to humanity. A paneled discussion on conservation and the environment will take place following the film. This will take place at Unitarian Fellowship in Hendersonville at 7 PM.  Please call 828-692-8062 for more information, including how to buy tickets.

Join us for another Hard 2 Recycle collection. This next event will be held in Weaverville in the Arvato Digital Services parking lot. We will be accepting: batteries, tvs, electronics, scrap metals, books, cardboard, CDs / DVD's, spent cooking oil, pet supplies and USABLE items for Habitat for Humanity. Time is 10 AM to 2 PM. Location is 108 Monticello Road in Weaverville.

Asheville NOW meeting is at 2 PM at the YWCA at South French Broad Street in downtown Asheville. Email for more information.

Stories of Resilience  - A report on the experience of the Christian Peace Maker Team in Hebron, Palestine. Christian Peacemaker Teams Palestine is a faith-based organization that supports Palestinian-led, non-violent, grassroots resistance to the Israeli occupation and the unjust structures that uphold it. By collaborating with local Palestinian and Israeli peacemakers and educating people in our home communities, we strive to help create a space for justice and peace. Presentation by Rachel, an Asheville activist and member of Circle of Mercy. This will be held at Biltmore United Methodist Church at 376 Hendersonville Road in Asheville. Time is 2 PM. This is sponsored by Just Peace Israel/Palestine. For more information, call 828-319-7652.   

“Wake Forest Food & Faith Intensive in Asheville: A New Heaven, A New Earth: Food Justice, Ecology, and Revelation” will be held at Warren Wilson College in Swannanoa. This transformative five-day course is designed for non-profit leaders, pastors, faith-based activists, gardeners and farmers, and anyone interested in the intersection of Christian spirituality, ecological restoration, and redemptive agriculture. Go to website for Creation Care Alliance of WNC for more information.

Just Economics hosts a general meeting on the second Tuesday of every other month where our members and supporters join us, share a meal, talk about some general updates about our work and our community, and then break out into committees to strategize and create plans to bring about a more just and sustainable local economy. This is a great time to get engaged with JE! Everyone is welcome. We will have food, however anyone able to bring a dish to share is encouraged to do so. For more information visit Time is 6:30 PM and location is United Way building in Asheville.

There will be food and drinks and a raffle, and tickets can be purchased through Asheville Community Theater at 828-254-1320. Time is 6:30 to 9 PM, films start at 7 PM. Location is Asheville Community Theater at 35 East Walnut Street in Asheville. For more information, contact MountainTrue’s AmeriCorps Education & Outings Coordinator Rachel Stevens at (828) 258-8737, ext. 215 or

The Drone Quilt Project has been approved by the Asheville Area Arts Council and will be exhibited at their Grove Arcade gallery from July 13 to July 25. Veterans for Peace Chapter 099, WNC Physicians for Social Responsibility and Just Peace for Israel/Palestine will be co-sponsoring this event.

Location is the Blue Ridge Parkway sheltered picnic grounds (Bull Mt. Rd. off Riceville Rd.) Time is noon to 4 PM. Directions: Exit 7 on I-240; go east on Tunnel Rd for 2 miles; turn north on Riceville Rd; go 1.3 miles and turn west on Bull Mt. Rd. The fenced-in, sheltered picnic area is on the left about ½ mile up the road. Please bring a potluck dish to share and your own settings. Drinks will be provided. 

This will be November 12-15, 2015 at Lake Junaluska. Theme will be “Longing for Peace/Exploring the Heart of God”. Keynote speakers are Rabia Terri Harris, founder of the Muslim Peace Fellowship; Rabbi Or Rose, founding director of the Center for Global Judaism at Hebrew College and Dr. Sam Wells, vicar of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, London. Special music by Yuval Ron and Ensemble-- a world-renowned musician, composer, educator, peace activist, and record producer.  The Yuval Ron Ensemble has been actively involved in creating musical bridges between people of the Jewish, Muslim and Christian faiths. They will perform Saturday eve. Registration is $120 before Sept. 1 and $145 afterward. Packages which include registration, lodging and meals are available. Register via Lake Junaluska website or call 828-454-6682 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 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.


The cost of military domination
By Jeff Lusanne

8 May 2015

Every passing year in America brings news of cutbacks to essential social programs, from food stamps and home heating assistance to research and infrastructure. The public is told there is no choice because ?there is no money? for such programs. What is never questioned in the political establishment is how a country with crumbling bridges and mass poverty can afford to spend hundreds of billions of dollars each year on the military.

The officially budgeted military spending of the United States in 2014 was $610 billion, nearly 35 percent of global military spending and greater than the combined spending of China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, France, the UK, India and Germany.

Real annual military spending by the United States is even higher, once nuclear weapons funding, interest payments on foreign wars, and the cost of veteran care is included. With these items, the annual amount is closer to $1 trillion.

Between 2000 and 2006, the US Department of Defense budget rose from $300 billion to over $530 billion, and it continues at those levels, despite the sequester federal budget cuts. For 2016, the President has proposed a total spending amount of $613 billion that would put Pentagon spending higher than any point during the presidency of Ronald Reagan.

The proposed $613 billion in funding is more than eight times larger than the federal education budget. It is over 22 times the amount proposed in the discretionary budget for transportation, $27.4 billion, even as the American Society of Civil Engineers rates the state of US infrastructure as a ?D,? requiring trillions of dollars in repairs. At current rates, military and intelligence spending between 2015-2020 will exceed $4 trillion.

The largest portion of the defense budget goes towards operations and maintenance of the military?s vast inventory of weapons and equipment. The category of Military Personnel received $142.9 billion, while procurement?new equipment?received $99.5 billion. Research, Development, Test & Engineering (RDT&E) received $62 billion, while construction and other assorted items took up the rest of the budget.

Between the branches of the armed forces, 2014 funding was relatively equal: the Army received $167.4 billion, the Navy (including the Marines), $162.1 billion and the Air Force, $144.3 billion. The Army?s costs have the largest connection to personnel, operations, and construction, and as US troop levels have been drawn down in Iraq and Afghanistan the Army?s share of funding has dropped significantly. Despite this, the overall military budget has not mirrored the drop as more money has been plowed into the incredibly expensive, high-tech weapons systems of the Navy and Air Force.

Within the president?s proposed Pentagon budget for fiscal year 2016 there is a proposed 12 percent increase in procurement and RDT&E spending to $177 billion, and much of it goes towards big-budget weapons programs designed to maintain total global military dominance.

The US military, across all its branches, has 13,900 planes. The entire commercial aircraft fleet in America?including all the major airlines and freight carriers like FedEx and UPS?is less than half that amount, at 6,788 aircraft.

Compared to other militaries worldwide, the US operates more planes in every type of category (combat, transport, helicopter, training, etc.) than any other nation. This includes a whopping 78 percent share of the global aerial refueling tanker fleet, the means by which combat aircraft can extend their flight range, allowing the US to more easily bomb anywhere in the world.

This vast fleet of aircraft includes some of the most expensive weapons ever created, and current weapons programs that will cost even more. The most recent cost estimate of the notoriously failure-prone F-35 fighter-bomber is $400 billion for procurement of 2,400 planes, while the lifetime operational cost will be $1 trillion.

In 2001, the per-plane estimated cost was $81 million, and the costs continue to rise as the plane is now seven years past its anticipated service date. In 2016, the White House is requesting $11 billion in funding for another year of research, development, and procurement. Including all of these costs, each of the 57 planes requested will cost $193 million.

The deficit of the City of Detroit, which was the nominal cause for the city?s bankruptcy and the gutting of city workers? pensions, was $327 million in 2013?less than the cost of one Navy F-35C. The city has announced plans to shut off water service to more than 20,000 households to collect a debt that amounts to about one-eighth the cost of one such aircraft.

Yet the F-35 is just one of many programs with equally staggering costs. In the 2016 procurement budget, over twelve separate drone, plane, and helicopter programs each have budgets of $1-3 billion dollars. Five E2-D Hawkeye command and control aircraft are requested for fiscal year 2016 at a cost of $263 million each. Adding the 2014 and 2015 budgets, nearly $4 billion has been spent for just 15 of these aircraft.

The White House is requesting $1.7 billion in 2016 for research and development on what is likely the next aircraft boondoggle, the Long Range Strike Bomber (LRS-B.) This new, undisclosed ?high tech, long range? bomber will replace the B-52, which has rained down death across the world for over 60 years; the B-1; and the B-2, the most expensive aircraft in history at $2 billion per plane. Northrup Grumman made the B-2 and is in fierce competition for the lucrative LRS-B contract.

The purchase cost of military systems is really just a fraction of their ultimate cost. The F-22 Raptor, the military?s latest air superiority fighter, is consuming upwards of $500 million per year just for upgrades and modifications. The B-2 has an ongoing annual cost of $300-$400 million for the last five years. Dozens of other planes require tens or hundreds of millions annually.

Yet nothing costs more money than an aircraft carrier, and the Navy has 10 of them in operation. Russia, China and France each field just one. The US Navy is constructing replacements of their fleet; the first Gerald R. Ford-class carrier was launched in 2015 and cost $12.8 billion.

When planes, bombs, missiles, crew, fuel, and supplies are added, the cost becomes unimaginably high. The Ford-class carrier is meant to feature the F-35C, which is the most expensive variant of the plane, at an estimated $337 million each. The carrier can hold up to 90 aircraft, but even just 40 F-35Cs would represent $13.4 billion dollars, more than the already gargantuan cost of the carrier itself. Each aircraft would carry millions of dollars worth of bombs and missiles. The total cost of all the items on the ship is therefore only comparable to entire federal budget items like science, which has a proposed budget of $31 billion for 2016.

Operating a carrier strike group has an estimated daily cost of $6.5 million, which is the cost of a new high-speed passenger rail locomotive. Amtrak, the national passenger rail system, only has a total of 355 locomotives to haul passengers across the entire country, nearly all of which are over 20 years old and in need of rebuilding or replacement. Replacing every single locomotive of Amtrak would cost less than operating one aircraft carrier for one year.

Aircraft carriers are just one aspect of several multi-billion-dollar ship programs. In the FY2016 proposal, another $22 billion would go towards the construction of submarines, destroyers, littoral combat ships, and a fuel tanker. Tomahawk cruise missiles, the notorious weapon of choice for the ?shock and awe? bombardment of Iraq in 2003, now cost $2.1 million each. In the first three days of the 2011 assault on Libya, at least 161 such missiles were fired; in present-day prices that would cost $338 million, the same cost as the 2,800-foot long six-lane Stan Musial Veteran?s Memorial Bridge across the Mississippi River that recently opened.

A largely hidden, yet massive, military cost is the operation, maintenance and replacement of the so-called ?Nuclear Triad.? This is the system of nuclear warheads ready for deployment on long range bombers, submarines, and land-based installations, and each of the three elements are up for replacement during the 2020s. Already in 2015, research on these replacements is consuming billions per year, before designs have even been finalized and contracts secured. A January 2014 report from the James R. Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies is simply titled ?The Trillion Dollar Nuclear Triad,? pointing to its estimate that $1 trillion will be spent on nuclear systems by the US in the next 30 years. It also notes that Congress has no accurate measure of the actual current spending on nuclear programs.

The destructive power of these nuclear forces is almost incomprehensible and greater than anything the world has ever known. The 14 current Ohio-class submarines in the Navy?s fleet each contain up to 24 nuclear-armed Trident II ballistic missiles. Each missile has a range of over 5,000 nautical miles and upon reentry into the earth?s atmosphere can release eight W88 ?multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles.? Each W88 can travel to a separate target and yield a blast more powerful than the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Thus, each Ohio class submarine carries nearly 200 nuclear warheads that can simultaneously attack every major city of an entire region of the world?from just one submarine. Given the provocative nature of the US?s activity in Ukraine, Eastern Europe, and the Asia-Pacific region, the possibility of any escalation is an absolutely harrowing prospect.

The terrifying destructive potential of the US military, whether conventional or nuclear weapons, is a very profitable business. In September, when the US began bombing ISIS in Iraq and Syria, the stocks of four of the five largest weapons makers?Lockheed Martin, Northrup Grumman, General Dynamics and Raytheon?soared to all time highs.

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