Answer: Climate Convergence on Raleigh is coming next weekend, April 20-21. It's a major coming-together of the growing network of people and groups working on climate change and related issues (e.g., fracking) in North Carolina.
If you've been looking for a chance to link up with this movement and with 350.org, the great grassroots organization that is spreading not just across the U.S. but the world, here it is. All the events are free, and you can take in as much or as little as you want.
There's a schedule on the website, but it needs to be fleshed out with the names of all the speakers — and the poets, musicians and other creative folks who are coming for the purpose of making this a memorable and compelling event. It's quite a list. More next week as it's finalized.
CCR 2013 — it's planned as a first annual event — is indeed timed to coincide with Earth Day.
Most of the CCR events/discussions will be at the Church of the Good Shepherd, 125 Hillsborough St. in downtown Raleigh ... but with time out on Saturday to take advantage of the Celebrate Earth activities at the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences.
Events on Sunday will feature a "bicycling in" and an outdoor rally on Halifax Mall, behind the Legislative Building in Raleigh, including a planned encircling of the Legislative Building itself.
(Maybe, if enough people come out, we can lift it off the ground and send it — well, you know.)
The mission is to "inspire, educate and issue a big call to action" on the issue of climate change:
The Climate Convergence on Raleigh (CCR) will be a critical mass event of concerned citizens and organizations from across North Carolina that are fed up with inaction. We will rally, march, and meet with our legislators that have the responsibility of charting the course of our future. We must take it upon ourselves to enact the political changes necessary to avert further climate devastation.
I spoke with one of the organizers, Karen Bearden, the other day, and I'll be writing about this next week for the Indy from her perspective as well as my own. My challenge will be to capture her passion for this cause and channel it — because whatever happens in Raleigh this year and next year and in the next decade on all the issues we care about, if our country doesn't get out in front on the climate change issue, we could be facing an existential catastrophe.
And, as progressives well know, our country won't get out in front until the public gets in front and drags our policymakers, corporate chieftains and investment bankers off their rears. Where their wallets are, I mean.
Jule Shanklin, Peggy Misch and Christina Cowger (in the picture below, from right to left) were part of the anti-Gitmo protest contingent at the federal building on New Bern Avenue in Raleigh today. Did you know that 80-some prisoners at Guantanamo have been "cleared for release" — i.e., they've never been charged with anything, because there's no evidence they were ever more than in the wrong place at the wrong time in the "War on Terror" — yet they continue to be held more than a decade later.
Forgotten and desperate, they're on a hunger strike which is now in its 6th week.
Today, in 20 cities including Raleigh, protesters sought to bring this outrage to public attention.
Jule Shanklin @ anti-Gitmo protest in Raleigh today. U.S. holds prisoners for years w/o charges.#closeGitmo @theccr twitter.com/rjgeary/status…
— Bob Geary (@rjgeary) April 11, 2013
Here's a note about the actions underway from the Center for Constitutional Rights:
Join CCR and our partners TOMORROW, April 11th, for an Emergency Day of Action to Close Guantánamo & End Indefinite Detention! Most of the men detained have been on a hunger strike for more than two months and some are in critical condition. After 11 years of indefinite detention, these men are protesting in the only method available to them. We need YOU to protest too! One of CCR’s legal workers just returned from visiting our clients in Guantánamo, and he reports that the situation is the worst he’s ever seen it. The time is now to raise your voice and demand that the Obama administration immediately address the causes of the hunger strike and fulfill its promise to close Guantánamo.
1. Join our events in 20 cities across the US:
New York, NY
Saratoga Springs, NY
San Francisco, CA
New Haven, CT
Los Angeles, CA
South Bend, IA
2. Call the White House at 202.456.1111 and tell President Obama to keep his promise to close Guantánamo.
3. Twitter Storm: President @BarackObama @WhiteHouse Keep your promise: #closegitmo #GitmoHungerStrike
4. If you have a Twitter account, take a picture of your action and tweet it using the hashtag #closeGitmo. Include @theCCR in your tweet and we’ll re-tweet you! Or email us your photo at closegitmo@CCRjustice.org
5. Watch and share this video of CCR Attorney Pardiss Kebriaei on All In with Chris Hayes: http://video.msnbc.msn.com/all-in-/51473726#51447813
6. See more actions beyond April 11th at CCR’s Guantánamo Hunger Strike page http://ccrjustice.org/get-involved/action/GTMOHungerStrike2013
7. Want to support this work further? Make a gift at www.CCRjustice.org/donate.
The time is now to raise your voice and help us build political pressure to end the immense suffering at Guantánamo and to shut the prison down. On behalf of our clients, who have suffered for too long, we thank you.
Center for Constitutional Rights
First up, there's a strategy meeting set for 6 p.m. next Tuesday, April 2 at Pullen Memorial Baptist Church in Raleigh — 1801 Hillsborough St. If you are among those outraged by what's going on in the General Assembly these days, and especially with the new voter-suppression legislation — this will be the NAACP and allied social justice groups and individuals coming together to make some plans.
Then, the following Tuesday, April 9, is a day for mass lobbying at the General Assembly. The same people and groups will gather at 9 a.m. at First Baptist Church, 101 S. Wilmington St., before walking to the Legislative Building 30-45 minutes later.
Now for that Good Friday note.
I was at Duke yesterday for the "Save Our State" meeting hosted by Scholars for a Progressive North Carolina. I'll be touching on what was said there in some form next week in the Indy; for now, I'm recalling two things.
One, the Republican meme that everything in North Carolina was/is "broken" and must therefore be fixed by the GOP is wrong, but is a very smart effort by the other side to dismiss a half-century of progress in our state catalyzed by liberal and moderate Democratic policies.
So, things look pretty hopeless for the progressive side right now. But one message from "Save Our State" was, this is a long fight that is never going to be over, but it's one in which we need to engage believing that we must, can and will win.
The second key from "Save Our State" was offered by Dr. Willie Jennings, a Baptist minister and associate professor at Duke Divinity School. Jennings observed that the other side frames its reactionary messages in Biblical language and cadences that too many on the progressive side, because we don't read the Bible or go to church, don't recognize when we hear them.
Jennings urged progressives to understand how deeply rooted religious beliefs are in our state. Learn about religion, he urged. Learn to speak in terms that touch a spiritual chord with people of faith. Above all, learn to take people's faith, even if you don't share it, "with the utmost respect and seriousness."
This morning, the NAACP, Democracy NC and other groups gathered folks at Pullen Baptist for a press conference to denounce the voter-suppression legislation introduced in the General Assembly this week by Republican leaders. (If you're not familiar with it, my post yesterday can serve as a starting point.)
The Rev. William Barber, the state NAACP president, and other speakers denounced this legislation as corrupt, undemocratic and unconstitutional. It's all of that.
Caesar, he said, was sure that he'd won the battle with the Christians when Jesus was crucified and buried. Things looked pretty hopeless for the Christian side that day. Two days later, their cause was victorious.
The voting rights won by Americans who bled in the '60s are once again being crucified, Barber said. But history shows — he went on with that great smile of his — "that the more you push people down, the more they rise up."
Bloody Sunday in Selma, Alabama showed that. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 followed swiftly after its champions were given a horrible beating.
Soo, too, the Christian story of Easter, Barber said. It shows, "if you push justice down, it gets up and resurrects itself!"
The death of the progressive movement in North Carolina is widely reported. Its resurrection, as it comes, will strike that spiritual chord.
The middle-class. The American Dream. It's not a matter of "under siege" — it's the greedy looting our country, and they've been getting away with it for years.
This excellent data visualization — not new, but all over the social media for the last week — might even make you angry enough to get involved:
UNC-Chapel Hill students are part of a national movement to put college and university endowments where their values should be when it comes to climate change. In short, get their money out of coal and fossil-fuel stocks and send a message to the investment world that it's wrong to finance companies whose products threaten to wreck the planet.
We've had a couple of columns about the UNC campaign previously — in November and in December. The latter noted UNC-CH Chancellor Holden Thorp's view that doing the right thing would get in the way of his $2 billion endowment buying the hottest hedge funds on the market — and between money and morality, he picked money.
So yesterday was student elections day in Chapel Hill, and the divestiture campaigners put a question on the ballot: Should UNC-CH divest its holdings in coal companies?
Answer: Yes, by an overwhelming margin.
This is from the organizers of the UNC Beyond Coal campaign:
77% of UNC students vote ‘yes’ to support endowment divesting from coal
Campus leaders plan Thursday press conference at Old Well
On Tuesday, students at UNC-Chapel Hill voted nearly four to one in favor of divesting UNC’s $2.1 billion endowment from the coal industry. Campus leaders will host a press conference on Thursday at the Old Well urging UNC administrators and trustees to address student concerns and will publicly call on the Board of Trustees to allow students to present at their next meeting.
“The message is overwhelmingly clear,” said UNC sophomore and Sierra Student Coalition coordinator Jasmine Ruddy. “Students want UNC’s endowment to take a moral stand on climate change by divesting from coal, the dirtiest and most carbon-intensive fossil fuel on the planet.”
With support from 77 percent of students who voted, the referendum represents a huge victory for the campaign for a coal-free endowment at UNC. More than 4,200 UNC students expressed support for divesting from coal companies. This campaign is part of a national student movement at more than 250 college and university campuses calling on their endowments to remove investments in the coal industry and other fossil fuel companies that are wrecking the planet.
Col. Morris (Moe) Davis was chief U.S. prosecutor for military trials at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba until he quit in protest over orders to allow so-called evidence gained via enhanced interrogation techniques, the methods formerly known as torture.
Davis will be speaking at UNC and Duke during the day on Thursday (tomorrow), at Johnston County Community College Thursday evening, and on Friday, noon, at N.C. State. All are free lectures open to the public.
(Here's a column I wrote about anti-torture efforts in the Triangle a couple of weeks ago, centered on Johnston County Airport and its tenant, Aero Contractors.)
This is from our friends at N.C. Stop Torture Now:
COL. DAVIS’ NORTH CAROLINA SPEAKING SCHEDULE
(all events free and open to the public)
Jan. 31, noon: UNC School of Law, 160 Ridge Road, Chapel Hill, Room 5042. “Confronting Torture: How It Makes America Less Safe.” Sponsor: Prof. Deborah Weissman, UNC School of Law.
Jan. 31, 4 pm: Duke University, East Duke Parlor, 210 East Duke Building. Sponsor: Prof. Robin Kirk, The Duke Human Rights Center at the Franklin Humanities Institute.
Jan. 31, 7:30 pm: “Torture Puts U.S. Service Members at Risk,” Johnston Community College, Graphic Arts Building, 245 College Road, Smithfield. Sponsor: NC Stop Torture Now.
Feb. 1, noon: NCSU, Caldwell Hall G-107. Sponsors: NCSU Political Science Dept., NCSTN.
More background on Davis from N.C. Stop Torture Now —
Confronting Torture: Former Chief Prosecutor at Guantanamo to Speak at Four North Carolina Schools
RALEIGH, NC — A major figure in the international debate over the U.S. policy of using torture on its “war-on-terror” detainees will speak publicly in four Triangle-area communities on January 31 and February 1.
Col. Morris “Moe” Davis, a 25-year Air Force veteran, served as chief prosecutor for the military commissions at Guantanamo Bay from 2005 to 2007. He resigned that position because he objected to the use of evidence obtained by torture, and in protest against political interference in the trials.
Col. Davis writes: “More than 4,000 American troops died and more than 30,000 were wounded after we invaded Iraq on the false claim that Saddam Hussein supported al Qaeda, a claim based on a lie a man told his torturers so they would stop torturing him. Condoning torture does not just sanction torturing American troops if they are captured, it can put their lives at risk for no good reason.”
He described his disillusionment at Guantanamo here:
Col. Davis has strong North Carolina ties: he received his B.S. in Criminal Justice from Appalachian State University in Boone, NC, and his Juris Doctor (JD) from N.C. Central University School of Law in Durham, NC. He is a member of the North Carolina and Washington, DC, bars, and is now a professor at the Howard University School of Law.
“The United States cannot stand up for justice and the rule of law when it sits idly on its own record of torture,” Col. Davis wrote in March 2011. “It diminishes the weight of its moral authority to influence others around the world when it treats its binding legal obligations as options it can choose to exercise or ignore.”
Col. Davis argues here that it is time to make Guantanamo testimony public and to declassify the new Congressional report on Bush-era interrogation methods:
Col. Davis’ North Carolina tour comes amid increasing controversy over harsh U.S. interrogations. The film “Zero Dark Thirty” is playing nationwide, and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence is considering whether to release a massive and allegedly shocking report on detainee treatment. The report is said to conclude that the torture program has damaged the U.S. in multiple ways.
Don’t lose this feeling. This mix of tears and resolve—don’t get over it; don’t set it aside.
This is what I’ve been telling myself since Friday. Keep it. Act on it.
Last night, Pam and I took part in the vigil at Pullen Church in Raleigh. At the end, everyone lit a candle using one of the 27 candles already burning in memory of the victims in Newtown. Read the name beside your candle, the minister said, and keep it in your heart.
When I got home, I found her picture online; family friends shared it on a Facebook page.
What a shiny little one she was. Precocious and completely endearing, someone said.
How terribly we failed her.
As a nation, how terribly we’re failing our children.
Yes, I mean where guns are concerned, and mental illness. But it goes much deeper.
We’re failing them by giving up on the future—their future—before they can shape it themselves.
@nytimes: Shooting at a Connecticut school. I was working on a different column Friday when I saw the first reports on Twitter. I went back to work. But I check Twitter reflexively, and an hour or two later, I saw an Associated Press report. @AP: 27 dead, including 18 children.
Later, 20 children.
Pam turned a TV on, and we followed the outpouring of media accounts. The tots who were lined up and killed. The principal and teachers who died so bravely. The killer, a psychotic young man with his mother’s arsenal of weapons, which she thought would defend her—and which instead killed her and other innocents.
For too long, we’ve stood helpless in America before the scourge of assault rifles and semi-automatic weapons that have no purpose, except, if they fall into the wrong hands, a murderous one.
An industry of weapons dealers and political apologists has grown up in my lifetime, and nothing they say makes any sense when measured against the senseless violence they promulgate; but reasonable people are afraid of them and are silent.
For too long, we’ve allowed people with mental illnesses to be imprisoned or abandoned instead of finding them the care they deserve.
So now we have a series of troubled young men armed like Rambo and shooting in movie theaters, shopping malls and, of course, schools, because what’s more instrumental in a shooter’s rage than his treatment, real or perceived, in school?
All this in a culture that celebrates violence, elevates the warrior and derides art and literature as effete.
It’s the holiday season, and over the weekend we were in a big-box toy store looking for a tutu for our great-niece Evelyn, 1, and a keyboard for her brother Jack, 4.
There were a fair number of tutus, but musical instruments were hard to find amidst the aisles of toy guns, tanks, combat artillery and other weapons of mass destruction for the boys. Not to mention the video games of death.
It’s nature and nurture, I suppose, that combine to produce a mass murderer, but we’re obviously going wrong with our boys, because in no other nation do angry boys grow up to be mass murderers on the scale that we tolerate: According to Time.com, 15 of the worst 25 mass killings in the world over the last 50 years occurred in the U.S. (Finland was second with two.)
Five of the worst 11 massacres in the U.S. have been since 2007.
Gun violence, too, is a singularly American problem. According to the Washington Post, we in America are 20 times as likely to be killed with a gun as people living in the other developed nations of the world. (Mexico, if considered a developed nation, is worse than the U.S. because of ongoing drug wars among the cartels; Honduras, very violent and under-developed, is also worse.)
Our problem, in a word, is the guns. We have far more of them per capita than any other nation. And unlike other nations, we allow people to own assault weapons which fire bullets in bursts of 30, 40 or 50 at a clip. Then we mythologize their owners, as if the well-regulated militia called forth by the Second Amendment might soon be needed to defend us from space invaders.
Little Olivia, we’re told, loved to dance and sing.
I’m a practical person. I like to write about subjects where there’s a chance to make a difference and avoid calling for the impossible. I suppose that’s why I haven’t written about gun control in some years. Politically, it was an issue too deadly to say its name.
Similarly, I haven’t written a lot about climate change since Al Gore's film came and went in 2006. It was “An Inconvenient Truth” that time would run out on the planet if the industrialized nations—meaning the United States, first and foremost—didn’t curb greenhouse-gas emissions. But we refuse to curb them, even though we could, and the polar ice caps are melting.
Thus, what should have been a crisis is now on the verge of being a catastrophe. though we remain in denial about it. That’s the column I was working on Friday—about the responsibility we have in North Carolina to force change on Duke Energy, now the nation's largest utility. I’ll write it in January.
But as I contemplated our failures on guns, mental health, the culture of violence and climate change, it dawned on me what the fundamental problem is: We’ve given up.
We have the know-how and resources to address all of these issues and others—like the so-called fiscal cliff—of lesser magnitude. But to do so requires that we first regain control of our political institutions. And in that regard, we haven’t a clue how to get our elected representatives to do anything good about anything.
It’s a hard problem on which we currently expend almost no mental energy. Instead, “We the People” cede our authority to soulless corporations, and the results reflect the nihilism of their quarterly balance sheets. Our hopelessness, sadly, has become a self-fulfilling prophecy of despair for our children’s futures.
President Obama, Sunday night, called on the nation to gather itself and be worthy of the children who died in Newtown.
He was talking about curbing gun violence, but I think it goes way beyond that.
When I see the picture of little Olivia Engel, I think about what must’ve been in her mind just before she was gunned down.
And I tear up.
Every time I see a child I try to make eye contact, and when I do, the reaction is always the same. Little children are trusting. They trust that we, the adults will do right by them, now and for the years ahead.
They’re sweet that way, even the boys. No one should ever want to break that trust.
So that’s what I’m feeling, and it’s what I don’t want to lose.
I’m sad to the point of tears about giving our children a world more dangerous and unhappy than it ought to be.
I’m resolved to stop being so practical and to start being hopeful about what can be achieved with a political revolution—and to trust that, guided by hope, we can find our way to the future our children deserve.
The future you see in Olivia’s eyes.
Obama thanking his campaign staff in Chicago and talking about his adult beginnings — and theirs.
I put off watching this until I could sit down and appreciate it. If you haven't seen it, do not miss it.
Obama a decisive winner, though the popular vote is close. Elizabeth Warren, Tammy Baldwin head a cast of new Democrats in the U.S. Senate, which stays Democratic by 55-45. The House is Republican. Averting the fiscal cliff and moving the country forward now requires — what?
Pat McCrory wins the governor's office for the Republicans, who dominate both houses of the General Assembly. They can do what they want, but North Carolinians split down the middle for lieutenant governor, and most of the Council of State went Democratic. Obama lost North Carolina, but not by much.
Our state is closely divided, suggesting that while the Republicans can slash and burn government services, it won't be popular if they do. They really should — what?
Around the country, gay marriage is winning in Maine, Maryland and Minnesota, and we'll see about the state of Washington later. A pro-immigration DREAM Act measure passed in Maryland as well. Florida rejected an extreme anti-abortion measure. The country is not conservative. It is forward-looking.
Given our constitutional structure, the Republicans in Washington can stop President Obama and the Democrats from accomplishing anything, despite the election results. The Republicans in Raleigh can run roughshod over the Democrats, despite the election results.
But good sense and a regard for the good of the nation — and the state — say that it's time for the Republicans to stop being the party of opposition and obstruction and start being a party of constructive compromise.
Obama is prepared to bargain. Not clear if the Republicans in Congress will.
In Raleigh, McCrory may or may not put the brakes on his party's right-wing. As for the Democrats, the search for leaders and policies begins immediately.
One final word, about Walter Dalton. Bev Perdue's lame withdrawal put him at a terrible disadvantage against McCrory, one he couldn't overcome. But he proved to be a first-rate candidate, albeit with second-rate financing, and he shouldn't be counted out in the future. He'd be a good governor.
Obama gets 51 percent of the popular vote nationally, net of what the Republicans can suppress or disqualify. He carries North Carolina and Florida by a hair. I said the other day that he'd lose Colorado and wind up with 338 electoral votes — not a landslide, but close. Colorado, because of the marijuana referendum, is the one place that Libertarian Gary Johnson may draw support, and if he does, it probably comes out of Obama's total. I think now that Obama will also carry Colorado ... but for consistency's sake, I'll stick with 51 percent and 338 electoral votes for Obama.
The new PPP poll has Walter Dalton 7 points down to Pat McCrory. If Democrats, having voted for Obama, pull the party lever for partisan races in the state, it will reduce McCrory's margin even more, maybe to as little as 2-3 points. But I don't see how Dalton erases the gap with independents given how much money McCrory's (and the Republicans) spent and how little Dalton was able to spend. So I'll say McCrory in the governor's race with 52 percent.
I think Forest is your next lieutenant governor and Cherie Berry probably survives on the elevator inspections (tough to call her a labor commissioner). Otherwise, I expect Democrats to win the Council of State races.
I know Ervin vs. The Twangy Guy (Newby) is an important election for state Supreme Court. But I have no insight there — so I'll guess that Ervin wins.
The three Democrats will sweep the Wake County commissioners elections, leaving the 4-3 Republican majority intact for two more years.