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Protesters slam Israel for ‘assault’
Thursday, 07 August 2014 16:11
By JOHN NORTH
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A rally — held at midday July 25 in downtown Asheville calling for U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., to end her support of what CODEPINK protest leaders termed the “Israeli assault on Gaza” — was met with a cold shoulder.

Specifically, Hagan’s office, just across Patton Avenue from the Pritchard Park rally, was inexplicably closed — and the senator, who the protesters lambasted for characterizing herself as “a liberal,” was nowhere to be seen.

“They might have figured we were coming,” Madea Benjamin, a cofounder of CODEPINK who spearheaded the rally, said with a laugh afterward, regarding her thoughts on a possible rationale for Hagan’s office closure.

Despite ascertaining the office closure at the beginning of the rally, the 25 to 30 protesters nonetheless carried on their hour-long event, enthusiastically waving signs bearing anti-Israeli and pro-Palestinian sentiments, as various speakers led chants and were applauded as they shared viewpoints that reflected the opinions on their signs.

The protesters marched, chanted and waved signs from the park to the sidewalk outside Hagan’s office to a special temporary Veterans for Peace bell tower memorial in Pack Square, in downtown’s hub. 

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Is U.S. next for global ‘arsonists?’
Thursday, 07 August 2014 16:08

From a peace-loving vision laid out by U.S. President John F. Kennedy in the early 1960s, the United States — tragically — has morphed into a nation that increasingly encourages international arsonists to ignite the flames of oppression and war abroad — and, as fate would have it, that fire is beginning to be burn here, too.

At least that was the viewpoint expressed by former Rep. Cynthia McKinney, who gave the keynote address at the 29th Annual Convention of the National Veterans for Peace on July 26 at the event center at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in Asheville’s Montford community.

Toward the end of her 25-minute speech, McKinney, the Green Party’s 2008 nominee for president, asserted, “What I want to leave you with is this: If these arsonists would light a fire in Africa, Europe, Asia... Why wouldn’t they light a fire right here at home? I hope I’ve demonstrated” — through her address — “that that is what is happening.”

McKinney, who was the first African-American elected to represent Georgia in the Senate, slammed President Barack Obama, who also is black, for many of his policies. “We now know that blindly voting for a Barack Obama was not going to give us the policies of a Martin Luther King Jr.”

The night’s other featured speaker, Matthew Hoh, gave an address titled “Thank You, For Taking the Red Pill,” in a reference to the film “Matrix,” where the premise is that mankind is in a comatose state, while apparently being harvested for food. However, one character, Neo, wakes up and realizes that “what’s in his head is not for real,” Hoh recounted.

Referring further to the film, he added, “The blue pill will put you back into that comatose state... The red pill will put you into reality... The red pill is pain, frustration, horror — plus, it’s true... I’d like to thank everyone in here for choosing the red pill.” The crowd erupted into cheers.

“To go against the grain, to go against what everyone thinks is right, to go against the conventional wisdom — particularly on war... I want to thank you for doing that,” said Hoh, a senior fellow at the Center for International Policy and the former director of the Afghanistan Study Group.

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