Buzzworm news briefs

The Guantanamo Bay question

Can people be detained indefinitely without a hearing or access to a lawyer? Has the right to habeas corpus been suspended?

These and other questions will be addressed in Behind Barbed Wire: Prisoners of the Bush Administration, an educational forum featuring panelists Bruce Elmore and Frank Goldsmith of the American Civil Liberties Union. The free event happens Tuesday, Jan. 27, 7-8:30 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Church, 1 Edwin Place (corner of Edwin Place and Charlotte Street) in Asheville. The forum is co-sponsored by the ACLU, the church’s Social Action Committee, Veterans for Peace, and the WNC Peace Coalition.

According to the Bush administration, the hundreds of detainees in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, aren’t entitled to fundamental American legal rights like due process because Camp Delta is on foreign soil. The administration also maintains that even though many were captured in war, they’re not prisoners of war — at least as defined by the Geneva Convention, which regulates the treatment of POWs.

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear the cases arising from these detentions.

For childcare during the event, call 299-1242. For up-to-date information on this and other Peace Coalition events, call the Peace Line at 271-0022, or visit their Web site (www.wncpeacecoalition.org).

— Lisa Watters

Marching for choice

“A woman’s right to safe, legal and accessible abortion and birth control hangs by a thread,” proclaims Melissa Smith of the Asheville chapter of the National Organization for Women. “Just one more ultraconservative justice on the U.S. Supreme Court could undermine Roe v. Wade for decades.”

To head that off, leading women’s rights organizations — including the Feminist Majority, NOW, the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League and the Planned Parenthood Federation of America — have organized “The March for Women’s Lives” on Sunday, April 25 in Washington, D.C.

“The time is right for a public demonstration of historic size in support of abortion rights and reproductive freedom for all women. Our rights are under attack as they haven’t been in over a decade,” the NOW Web site declares.

More than 570 organizations — including civil rights, labor, lesbian-and-gay, disability, campus and religious groups, as well as health clinics and service providers — have already signed on to co-sponsor the march, and more are being added daily, the Web site reports.

The local NOW chapter and Planned Parenthood are organizing transportation to the march. Buses will leave Asheville on Saturday, April 24.

“This is expected to be the largest women’s rights march in history,” says Smith. “Now is the time to stand up and be counted in the fight for women’s rights.”

To learn more, call Smith at 216-4137, visit the event’s Web site (www.marchforwomen.org), or attend an informational meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 27 from 7-9 p.m., upstairs at the Grove Corner Market in the Grove Arcade.

— Lisa Watters

The legacy of World War II

When America entered World War II, almost everyone became involved in the war effort. While millions of men headed overseas for battle, women thronged to factories and shipyards to build the guns, tanks, planes and ships needed for victory. And even when the war ended, life was never the same.

An upcoming film-and-discussion series, From Rosie to Roosevelt: A Film History of Americans in World War II, covers both the men and women who went overseas and those who mobilized to support the war effort at home. Participants will view award-winning documentary films, read Studs Terkel’s The Good War, and talk about how the experience that defined a generation still shapes many lives today. The films will be shown on Sunday afternoons at 2:30 p.m. in Pack Memorial Library’s Lord Auditorium.

The series begins with The Home Front (Jan. 25), a comprehensive overview of the economic and social history of America during World War II. The film explores how the war affected the economy, labor and civil rights, as well as its lasting impacts on the nation’s economy, social fabric and way of life.

Subsequent weeks will focus on the war’s effects on women and minorities. The Life and Times of Rosie the Riveter (Feb. 1) interweaves the inspiring and informative stories of five “Rosies” who went to work in wartime factories and the challenges they faced there.

Color of Honor and Days of Waiting (Feb. 8) trace the experience of Japanese-Americans after Pearl Harbor — the restriction of their personal freedoms, their removal to detention camps, and the many young Nisei men who joined the military to demonstrate their loyalty to America despite its treatment of them.

The story of the only World War II U.S. Navy warship manned by a predominantly African-American crew — told through interviews with veterans and footage of their wartime experiences escorting convoys across the treacherous North Atlantic — is the subject of Proudly We Served: The Men of the USS Mason (Feb. 15).

America and the Holocaust: Deceit and Indifference (Feb. 22) considers America’s reaction to the Holocaust. Although news of a German campaign to exterminate Jews reached America in 1942, the government didn’t formally recognize the crisis until 1944. Explore why no action was taken sooner — and how many lives the delay cost.

The series concludes with D-Day (Feb. 29), documenting the experience of American servicemen who landed on the beaches of Normandy on June 6, 1944. The burden of the invasion fell on largely untested young men who conquered fear, fatigue and injury to lead America to victory.

Dr. Dan Pierce, assistant professor of history at UNCA, will lead the discussions following the films. The programs and reading materials are free and the discussions are open to the public. Participants are encouraged to attend the entire series, but drop-ins are also welcome.

For more information, call Pack Library at 255-5203.

— Lisa Watters

Voting day: outlook hazy

If you’re itching to cast your ballot in this year’s primary, you may be in for a surprise.

Thanks to state-level wrangling over legislative-district lines, it’s unclear when voters will be able to go to the polls for North Carolina’s primary — or even when candidates can file for elective office, says Buncombe County Board of Elections Deputy Director Max Gough.

That’s because Republicans (including both current and former legislators) are challenging the district lines approved by the General Assembly in November. A battle over whether a panel of judges will ultimately decide the issue is slated to be decided by the state Supreme Court, according to The News & Observer of Raleigh.

If any of this sounds familiar, that’s because a similar lawsuit and subsequent court appeals delayed the 2002 primaries until September of that year. A state Superior Court judge ended up drawing temporary voting districts, which were good for only a year.

If the redistricting issue isn’t settled by Feb. 9 — when state law would normally require the filing period to begin for many offices — the N.C. Board of Elections will postpone both the filing period and the primary itself, explains Gough.

And this year promises a bumper crop of candidates competing at the national, state and local levels.

“It’s going to be a big ballot,” Gough predicts.

At the national level, much is at stake. In addition to the presidency, one-third of the Senate seats and all House seats will be contested. North Carolina voters will also choose a governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general plus members of the Council of State, a number of judges, and members of the state House and Senate.

Closer to home, all five seats on the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners will be up for grabs, as will the position of register of deeds. In addition, voters will select four people to serve on the seven-member Buncombe County Board of Education and two members of the Buncombe County Soil and Water Conservation District Board (the filing for those two boards won’t take place until summer, says Gough).

“We’ll find out Feb. 9 what’s going on,” reports Board of Elections staffer Ben Bryson.

Keep that pencil handy.

— Tracy Rose

Your voice in Congress

Uncertainty over the exact date of North Carolina’s primary hasn’t prevented a number of potential candidates from taking aim at Brevard Republican Charles Taylor‘s seat in Congress.

As Taylor prepares to seek re-election, potential Democratic challengers include Buncombe County Commissioner Patsy Keever (who declared her candidacy last October) and Hendersonville lawyer Sam Neill (who recently said he might run a third time against the veteran Congressman). Swannanoa resident Michael Morgan is also in the running, according to the state Democratic Party Web site.

Keever will officially open her campaign headquarters (115 Patton Ave. in downtown Asheville) on Saturday, Jan. 24 with an open house from noon to 5 p.m.

For more info on Keever, check out keeverforcongress.com. Morgan’s Web site is cmmorgan4congress.com. Taylor’s campaign Web site can be found at taylor4congress.com.

— Tracy Rose

Up close and personal

“I’ve been with Jim for several years now. We’ve had a lot of good times,” says 15-year-old Caleb about his Big Brother. “One of the things I’ve enjoyed most is being able to go places with him and spend time with him. It’s like having a real brother, which I think was the goal of Big Brothers Big Sisters when it was founded. More people should volunteer with this program … because people should have at least one person they are close to.”

Some men may be concerned about the time commitment or may fear that the attachments formed might end up being too consuming, notes Caleb’s Big Brother, Jim Stickney.

“That doesn’t have to be the case,” he explains. “The time spent visiting with a Little Brother doesn’t have to be too long, as long as it’s regular and the two of you stay in touch by some means. It’s about being a factor in his life, not a fixture. The Big Brothers Big Sisters program does not expect you to be a surrogate family, just a caring and positive influence. My own experience has lasted [seven years] largely because of mutual respect for space, changes and growth — both as individuals and in common.”

At the moment, Big Brothers Big Sisters of WNC has 65 kids (mostly boys) waiting for a Big Brother or Big Sister, reports Assistant Director Jamye Davis.

The time commitment can be as little as one hour a week (or longer outings twice a month) for one year. Participants enjoy such activities as service projects, gardening and sporting events, based on their common interests. Right now, the organization’s youngest volunteer is 17 and the oldest is 87, says Davis, proving that “it’s never too late to become a Big Brother or Big Sister.”

The program also offers mentors the opportunity to spend one hour a week with an elementary student in his or her school, helping them with reading, art or homework. This is especially convenient for working people who prefer to mentor during their lunch break. Teachers refer students to the program who need extra encouragement and support in order to succeed in school.

January is National Mentoring Month, and to celebrate, the local organization sponsored an essay contest for program participants on the topic “Our Favorite Activity.” Here’s what one of the winners, seventh grader Stefani, had to say about the time she spends with Big Sister Carol Sutton:

“My name is Stefani and my big sister is Carol. We have lots of fun together. This year we entered the [Big Brothers Big Sisters] Leadership Program and made a scrapbook. We have gone to UNCA college and taken a tour of the campus. We have also made Christmas shoeboxes for children in other countries. We’ve cooked food from another country [Mexico] and it was delicious. Some Saturday nights, Carol and I would volunteer at Shindig on the Green. We have also been to see dancers from different countries at Folkmoot. It’s also fun to go to the movies on Friday nights with Carol and then go out to eat. We have lots of fun together, and I hope it will last a long time.”

The national Big Brothers Big Sisters organization is beginning its 100th year of service to children. Locally, Big Brothers Big Sisters of WNC is celebrating its 22nd birthday. The program began in Buncombe County in 1982, added Henderson County in 1988, and has since expanded to Burke, Haywood, Jackson, Polk and Swain counties. This year, the organization plans to serve more than 800 WNC youth through one-on-one mentoring relationships. In 2003, 833 children between the ages of 6 and 18 spent one-on-one time with a positive adult role model through one of the agency’s programs.

To volunteer or for more information, call Big Brothers Big Sisters of WNC at 253-1470 (in Buncombe County) or 693-8153 (in Henderson County).

— Lisa Watters

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