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Pay Any Price, Bare Any Burden

Spring wasn't the only thing peeking out under clear blue skies this week. As the poet said: All sorts of flowers, the which on earth do spring/In goodly colours gloriously arrayed1/Would bare their utmost for peace to bring/And thence o'er in Chapel Hill parade.2 (See below.) "War is the antithesis of all life," these Naked People for Peace-NC declared as they set off for the UNC campus Tuesday evening in a shameless display of their, um, opposition to the Bush Iraq Attack. "Our bare human bodies are potent symbols OF life."

Alas, the Chapel Hill police were intent on a coverup, one way or another. So, at the last, the 20 NP's draped themselves in sheets to survive official scrutiny and stay out of jail. "We're committed to bare all, though, if our government decides to go to war in Iraq," Andy Pearson declared.

This idea of "baring witness" started in November in Marin County, Calif., when 45 women arrayed themselves on the beach to spell out "Peace." And before they peeled off for Chapel Hill, the N.C. NP's had spelled out "End War!" for the camera sans habillement. Both efforts are (tastefully) displayed at www.baringwitness.org along with submissions from around the country and the world. The Web site counter lists 152,000 hits so far!

Spring is also the time of year in Washington for cherry blossoms and pruning bushes:

Saturday, March 8: On Women's International Day, protesters plan to encircle the White House. They'll gather at Malcolm X Park on 16th and W St. NW at 11 a.m. for a march down the hill to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. for the 1 p.m. event. Speakers include the Triangle's own Rania Masri, Granny D, Barbara Ehrenreich, Alice Walker and Dr. Helen Caldicott. Info: www.unitedforpeace.org.

Saturday, March 15: Another D.C. march, details sketchy so far. E-mail info@internationalanswer.org or call (202) 544-3389.

Security Council Vote: How about 1 million e-mails to the voting members of the U.N. Security Council? Ambassadors' names and e-mail addresses (e.g., The Hon. Martin Belinga Eboutou of Cameroon, info@cameroonmission.org) are available--if you want 'em, somebody sent them to us; e-mail us at rjgeary@aol.com and we'll pass them on. One e-mail, 15 addresses, done.

Everest-ability. Spring is also when you climb Mount Everest, the world's highest peak. Mark Ezzell, 39, a state crime control official who's also volunteer chair of the N.C. Council on Developmental Disabilities, is leaving next week to join a group out of Austin, Texas. They'll fly, in two jumps, to the Himalayas (altitude: 9,000 feet). Then they'll climb to the Everest base camp (altitude: 17,500 feet) over a period of a month. A few will head on from there to the summit (altitude: 29,035 feet).

Ezzell, who was born with spina bifida, will be climbing in a wheelchair, so he'll stop at the base camp. Actually, he'll be in a hybrid chair-mountain bike, as he describes it. Or, if conditions require, in a rubber sled. The point is to get there--by any means necessary--to show that disability doesn't mean no-ability. "I'm excited," he says. "And I'm nervous."

When we saw him, he was sipping refreshments at April & George's, the newest hip hangout in Raleigh's Glenwood South. The owners had organized a fundraiser to help him reach his goal of $6,100, the cost of the expedition. (He had about $4,000 going in.)

The trip was cooked up by the Texas DD Council, which spun off the nonprofit "Coalition of Texans With Disabilities" for the purpose. Ezzell will be looking for speaking gigs upon his return, complete with video. He can be reached at mark_ezzell@mindspring.com or call (919) 828-0338.

March Madness. Gov. Mike Easley--remember him?--keeps naming advisory commissions and then ignoring their good advice. The latest: The blue-ribbon group headed by Tom Ross, executive director the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, which said it was time for an overhaul of North Carolina's tax code, starting with extending the sales tax to services.

Where was that in Easley's State of the State message Monday? Easley pitched the conservative-pleasing idea of artificially capping increases in the state budget, as if big spending caused the state's current ($1 billion? $2 billion?) budget hole. The two real causes: 1) Cuts in state tax rates during the '90s now totaling $1.4 billion a year; 2) Sales tax receipts that are flat, since more and more money's spent on services, not goods (and lots of good are bought tax-free on the Internet).

Closing corporate tax loopholes, advised by a prior blue-ribbon bunch, was similarly forgotten by the governor, whose fundraising focus is obviously more on his own re-election campaign than the state's sagging fiscal condition.

Peace Street. Cities have streets. That's what makes them cities. Peace College, in downtown Raleigh, wants to close part of Franklin Street because it's acquired some land--part of the old Halifax Court public housing project--on the other side of the street from the campus. What's Peace going to put over there? They don't know yet. Doesn't sound like much of a reason to close a street. EndBlock

Footnotes:
1Spenser, "Amoretti."

2Citizen Geary. Reach him at rjgeary@aol.com or (919) 412-5051.

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