Summer’s Biggest Vote Is Here: Brexit or BritIN?

July 1, 2016

The Georgetowner’s U.K. correspondent, a Georgetown University student, reports from London about this week’s referendum on whether Britain should remain in the European Union.

Summer’s Biggest Vote Is Here: Brexit or BritIN?

June 20, 2016

The Georgetowner’s U.K. correspondent, a Georgetown University student, reports from London about this week’s referendum on whether Britain should remain in the European Union.

Farmers Market to Open June 5 at Former Neams-Marvelous Market Property

May 25, 2016

Georgetown is set to welcome a summer farmers market at a corner that could use some life. The small parking lot at Wisconsin Avenue and P Street NW, part of the former Neams and Marvelous Market property, will offer produce and other items from Licking Creek Bend Farm of Needmore, Pennsylvania, beginning June 5.

Across from Thomas Sweet ice cream parlor, the property at the corner of Wisconsin Avenue and P Street housed the famed Neams Market for decades until 2000, when Marvelous Market opened at the spot and then closed in April 2014.

The incoming market will provide the community with healthy, naturally grown produce from a 60-acre farm tucked away in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains.

Michael Tabor and Esther Siegel, husband and wife operators of the organic farm, are no strangers to the D.C. farmers’ market scene. Their fresh produce has been sold at the Adams Morgan Farmers Market every summer since the mid-1970s.

The outdoor market will be at 3217 P Street, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., every Sunday, regardless of the weather, selling non-GMO fruit and vegetables, grown without chemical pesticides, picked just the day before.

Sivan Properties, Inc., purchased the property in 2015 from the Neam family.

Planned Parenthood’s Cecile Richards Speaks at Georgetown University, with Protestors Nearby

May 1, 2016

On April 20, Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards came to Georgetown University to deliver a historic speech to a packed crowd of students. The significance of the event is found in the juxtaposition of Georgetown’s status as the oldest Catholic University in the country and Planned Parenthood’s title as the United States’ largest abortion provider.

Richards spoke at the invitation of the Lecture Fund, a non-partisan and student-run organization, which has previously hosted conservative commentator Ann Coulter and a slew of other notable guests. Her invitation was greeted with consternation by pro-life groups both on campus and around America, which considered the move an affront to the values of a supposedly Catholic and Jesuit university. Even Archbishop of Washington, Cardinal Donald Wuerl condemned Georgetown by stating that it was not “within the Catholic tradition for a university to provide a special platform to those voices that promote or support” issues contrary to the Vatican’s views, such as abortion. (Wuerl is celebrating a Mass of Life April 21 at Epiphany Catholic Church in Georgetown.)

Despite the onslaught of criticism, Georgetown University administrators defended the Lecture Fund’s decision on the grounds of freedom of expression, stating that they hoped to “provide a forum that does not limit free speech.”

As she walked on stage, Richards was greeted by a standing ovation. In her opening remarks, she was quick to thank the university for standing by the Lecture Fund and stated the importance of the protection of free speech. She went on to recount her career as an activist, which started in earnest in middle school, when she wore a black armband to protest American involvement in Vietnam. (She is the daughter of former Texas governor Ann Richards.) Later, she told the story of Planned Parenthood’s foundation by Margaret Sanger 100 years ago. Sanger was arrested for distribution of birth control devices, information and advice, which violated the Comstock Law prohibiting “articles of immoral use.”

Richards explained how far Planned Parenthood and its mission have come since 1916. An estimated 1 in 5 women in the U.S. has frequented one of Planned Parenthood’s more than 650 health centers across the nation. Annually, 2.5 million women and men (men make up 10 percent of the organization’s clientele) visit Planned Parenthood centers in the United States. Planned Parenthood prevents approximately 579,000 unintended pregnancies per year and provided over 270,000 Pap tests and breast exams. She notes that teen pregnancy rates are at a 40-year low, thanks in large part to her organization’s work providing sexual education over the internet to 6 million people.

During her address, Richards emphasized the importance of the members of the Millennial generation sitting before her. “I’m constantly blown away by young people tackling issues that have been taboo for years,” she remarked, later referring to the fight over sexual violence on college campuses and the growth of the Black Lives Matter movement in response to the marginalization of the African American community. In addition, she praised the bravery of the scores of young volunteers and professionals who work in Planned Parenthood and embody the organization’s unofficial motto, “These Doors Stay Open,” when they unanimously decided to open the day after the shooting at a Planned Parenthood location in Colorado Springs in November 2015.

After her speech, Richards sat down for a conversation with two Georgetown students and Lecture Fund board members, Helen Brosnan and Elizabeth Rich. Together, they addressed issues including the recent Supreme Court case on whether recent legislation in Texas represents an “undue burden” on provision and attainment of safe and legal abortions. Richard unequivocally thinks that it does and that such laws merely masquerade under the “guise” of protecting women. She stated that in her ideal world the next president would work to overturn the Hyde Amendment, which forbids federal funds from being used for abortions.

In the first time in its history, Planned Parenthood has endorsed a presidential candidate during the primary season: former senator and secretary of state Hillary Clinton. Richards cited Clinton’s introduction of eight separate bills to expand access to reproductive healthcare during her time in the Senate as reason for Planned Parenthood’s support. “I can’t wait for the day partisan politics gets out of reproductive healthcare,” Richards said.

The three women on stage also touched on the recent allegations that Planned Parenthood was involved in the selling of body parts obtained through abortion. Richards denounced these accusations, referring to the footage that raised the concerns as “deceptively edited.” She reminded the audience that Planned Parenthood has been exonerated of any wrongdoing by a Texas grand jury and that the creators of the video have been indicted in their place.

A short question-and-answer session followed the conversation, during which Richards invited a pro-life student to visit a health center to see for herself what type of work is done there. An atmosphere of politeness prevailed throughout.

Outside the event, however, protesters gathered on a cordoned-off section of campus. They were led by Abby Johnson, a former Planned Parenthood employee turned pro-life activist, who delivered a speech at Dahlgren Chapel at 7:30 pm on the same day. The protesters’ banners and signs labeled Cecile Richards “a felon” and demanded the federal government switch funding from Planned Parenthood to Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs), which provide women’s health services but not abortion.

In an interview with the Georgetowner, Johnson stated that her goal was to “debunk the myth that women don’t have other options outside of Planned Parenthood” and called that claim “a blatant lie.” Johnson said that despite Planned Parenthood’s numerous health services, it only provides these to “eventually sell a product to a patient, and that is abortion.”

Johnson is the founder of And Then There Were None, an organization dedicated to helping abortion clinic workers leave the industry. According to Johnson, in the past three years, 218 clinic workers, including six full-time abortion doctors, have done just that.
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Kevin MacDonald’s Suspended Moments at the Katzen

April 27, 2016

“If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”

This is the question asked by “The Tension of a Suspended Moment,” an exhibition of works by Kevin MacDonald on view through May 29 at the American University Museum at the Katzen Arts Center.

The majority of the numerous pieces on display show what can only be described as empty scenes. Humans are absent from almost all the beautifully rendered locations. A silent suburban street, an abandoned diner booth and a vacant laundromat are all eerily depicted, hanging on the walls of the gallery.

The understanding one obtains from staring at MacDonald’s work is that the absence of people only makes their existence more noticeable. Every picture appears suspended in the time between when someone has just left the scene and when someone might return.

A lifelong Washington resident, MacDonald died in 2006 at the age of 59. The exhibition, which assembles an enormous range of his work, is simultaneously a celebration of his talent and a lamentation of his early passing. As Lee Fleming writes in the text at the entrance to the exhibition, the amassing of such a great number of pieces forces us to take note of their creator’s departure, 10 years ago.

By presenting so many of his pictures in only three rooms, the curators are able to reveal the full diversity of talent possessed by MacDonald, who was known to change his style and subject matter for every show. On one wall, you see a precisely drawn image of a suburban cottage, but across the gallery you find a far more abstract pastel drawing, “Angel of the Annunciation.” In one room, you might find 20 years of work, demonstrating the varied influences drawn upon by MacDonald in his artistic life.

Yet, while MacDonald’s art, as presented at the Katzen, will amaze you with its variety, a clear and well constructed theme runs through the entire exhibition: that of momentary silence.

On Saturday, May 21, at 6 p.m., there will a gallery talk about the exhibition. For more information, visit
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Washington, D.C., Celebrates Earth Day

April 20, 2016

On April 22, Earth Day will be celebrated for the 46th time. The annual global phenomenon, started in 1970, is intended to motivate people to act to help save the planet from the forces of climate change.

The historic Paris Climate Agreement was sealed in the final days of 2015 and is scheduled to be signed on this coming Earth Day by as many as 120 countries, including both the United States and China. Combined, those two countries make up as much as 40 percent of global emissions. The treaty will be signed at the United Nations headquarters in New York City.

Celebrate this monumental human achievement and Earth Day by heading to one of these climate friendly Earth Day events in the Washington, D.C. area. There are events for environmentally conscious kids, teens and adults.

Earth Day Celebration at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo: Take time to observe the species that need protecting this Earth Day while getting gardening tips from the experts, attending special demonstrations, touring the zoo’s green facilities and participating in other climate-themed activities. The zoo encourages participants to bike to the event.

Saturday, April 23, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
3001 Connecticut Ave. NW

Earth Day at Union Station: The station will be putting on a spread of eco-friendly and interactive experiences to educate people about environmental issues and encourage sustainable practices. The event is sponsored by NASA and will feature scientists, astronauts and a number of exhibits.

Thursday and Friday, April 21 and 22, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
50 Massachusetts Ave. NE

Alexandria Earth Day: The theme of this celebration is “Choose to Reuse—Your Choices Matter.” There will be a number of exhibits, demonstrations and hands-on activities for kids. Live music will be performed by Hand Paint Swinger. A number of food trucks will be serving at the event.

Saturday, April 30, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Lenny Harris Memorial Fields at Braddock Park, 1005 Mt. Vernon Ave., Alexandria, Virginia

United State Botanic Garden Earth Day Open House: Come to the Conservancy Terrace at the Botanic Gardens to meet with representatives of regional conservancy organizations. Participate in hands-on games and activities and learn how keep our planet healthy.

Friday, April 22, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
100 Maryland Ave. SW

Broccoli City Festival: Come listen to headliner and wildly popular rapper Future at the Gateway Pavilion. A number of other musicians will be performing as well, including Californian Jhené Aiko and former Odd Future members The Internet. This one-day music festival, featuring ground-breaking artists, is committed to engaging urban millennials in issues of environmental sustainability. In addition to the music, there will be pop-up markets, live art and featured restaurants.

Tickets can be bought at ticket-resale websites or “earned” by participating in volunteer opportunities. Entrants must be 16 years or older.

Saturday, April 30, noon to 10 p.m.
St. Elizabeth East Gateway Pavillion, 1100 Alabama Ave. SE

Anacostia Watershed Cleanup: Be a hero of the Anacostia River. Join over 2,000 volunteers to clean one of D.C.’s main waterways. Be prepared to get a bit dirty. Register at the Anacostia Watershed Society website.

Saturday, April 23, 9 a.m. to noon
You can volunteer at 31 locations in Washington, D.C., and Maryland.

“eARTh Day” Art Night: Exclusive Multi-Artist Exhibition: An exhibit of environmentally themed art about our planet as seen through the eyes of local artists. Admission is free but all proceeds from sales directly benefit artists.

Friday, April 22, 8 p.m.
The Ritz-Carlton Georgetown, 3100 South St. NW

“Made in Arlington” pop-up shop: A retail experience dedicated to all things beautiful, wearable and edible provided they’re made in Arlington. Browse for gifts or curiosities at the stands while admiring the ongoing photo exhibit Lighting Diversity, which will be shown in the same space. The event is free.

Saturday, April 23, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Arlington Mill Community Center Gallery, 909 S Dinwiddie Street, Arlington, Virginia

Biden Defends Obama’s Supreme Court Pick, Says ‘There Is No Biden Rule’

April 18, 2016

Vice President Joe Biden delivered a speech March 24 at Georgetown University Law School on the nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court.  Biden was introduced to a full room by Georgetown Law Professor Victoria Nourse, who has served as a senior advisor to the vice president.

Biden called Garland “eminently qualified” and a voice of “moderation.” He urged Republican members of the Senate to  hold a hearing on the nominee’s potential promotion to the bench.

The vice president took the opportunity to refute claims that he had schemed to block a George H. W. Bush nominee to a potential opening on the bench in 1992.

Republicans have referred to then-Sen. Biden’s speech as the “Biden rule,” when he appeared to be arguing that the Senate did not have to act on a Court nomination during a presidential election year.

“There is no Biden rule,” said Biden, formerly a chairman of the Senate the Judiciary Committee. “It doesn’t exist. There is only one rule I ever followed in the Judiciary Committee. That was the Constitution’s clear rule of advice and consent.”

He said that Senate Republicans were “quoting selectively” from his own remarks on the issue to legitimize their intransigence over Garland’s nomination.

“The longer this high court vacancy remains unfilled, the more serious a problem we will face — a problem compounded by turbulence, confusion and uncertainty about our safety and security, our liberty and privacy, the future of our children and grandchildren,” Biden said. “In times like these, we need more than ever a fully functioning court.”

Biden called on Senate Republicans to prevent the dysfunction on Capitol Hill from spreading to another branch of the government. 

Plans for RFK Stadium Overhaul Released

April 8, 2016

Possible plans for the future of the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium complex were released April 4 at a press conference, held by Events DC at the Washington Convention Center.

A total of six proposals were released, two of which called for the return of the Washington Redskins to the District in a brand new 65,000-seat stadium. The Washington Redskins vacated RFK in 1996 in favor of the FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland. To get the Redskins back home, D.C. leaders would have to entice the team’s owner, Daniel Snyder, with a favorable offer.

Another proposition called for additional development of the property with a 20,000-person arena, jointly occupied by the Capitals and the Wizards.

Other, more short-term projects put forward range from an open-air market to a science center.

Two general design concepts have been introduced for the development.

The first concept, entitled “North-South Axis,” would require considerable re-working of the surrounding grid system. The second idea — “Stitch” — maintains the current street network. Both plans include the construction of pedestrian bridges across the Anacostia River, an urban beach and a family sport and entertainment complex among a number of other amenities for the community.

RFK is currently the home ground of the D.C. United Major League Soccer team, which plans to relocate to a new stadium at Buzzard Point in 2018. Today, RFK has the capacity to seat an audience of 45,600.

The owner of the site, Events DC, is the “official convention and sports authority for the District of Columbia.” Other than RFK, its venues include Nationals Park, Carnegie Library at Mt. Vernon Square and the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.

All Clear After Capitol Shooting

March 30, 2016

The lockdown of the U.S. Capitol complex — and, briefly, the White House — has been lifted following the detention of a suspected shooter.

The shots were fired shortly before 3 p.m. The shooter’s motives remain unknown.

Police ordered the lockdown at the Capitol, meaning no one was allowed to enter or leave the buildings. Those remaining outdoors were asked to find cover while the shooter was at large.

A U.S. Capitol police officer was shot and wounded in the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center, which will remain closed to the public.

The Capitol reopened, for official business only, just before 4 p.m.

Planned Parenthood Head’s Visit to Georgetown U. Opposed

March 24, 2016

Georgetown University’s Lecture Fund, a student-run organization, has invited Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood, to deliver a speech on campus on April 20. Richards’s acceptance of the invitation has triggered considerable backlash from the university’s student-run Right to Life organization, which claims the event is contrary to Georgetown’s identity as a Jesuit institution.

Two petitions have been launched — by Georgetown University Right to Life and Students for Life of America and by the Cardinal Newman Society — both calling for Richards’s visit to be cancelled, citing Planned Parenthood’s status as the nation’s largest abortion provider.

A statement issued by administrators defended the Lecture Fund’s actions, stating that the university sought to “provide a forum that does not limit free speech.” However, the statement also referred to the continued strength of Georgetown’s Jesuit identity and reaffirmed the university’s commitment to the “sanctity and human dignity of every stage of life.” Michael Khan, president of Georgetown University Right to Life, has condemned the administrators’ “lack of moral courage” in refusing to oppose Richards’s upcoming speech.

The Archdiocese of Washington, led by Cardinal Donald Wuerl, also released a statement, which criticized the absence of “morality, ethics and human decency” on a campus that purports to uphold Catholic values.