Closed Council meetings = Better informed public
Absurd “less is more” rationale for Issue 12 from the Columbus Dispatch

By Suzanne Patzer

It is hypocritical for the Dispatch, a consistent champion of open records and sunshine laws, to advocate for Issue 12, the ballot issue allowing closed City Council meetings (“Open Secrets,” Tues., Sept. 21 editorial). Tax-paying Columbus citizens do not need to be shielded from hearing varying opinions and disagreements between our elected representatives. In fact, some dissent would be a refreshing change from the homogenous and suspiciously “unanimous” votes we repeatedly witness.

The Dispatch editorial explained that most of Council business goes on “outside of public meetings” already, so why not give them our blessing to continue these backroom deals by changing the charter language. We don’t like the backroom deals going on now, and we certainly don’t want Council emboldened to hold sanctioned secret meetings.

The Dispatch’s absurd claim that the “City charter change would provide public with more information” insults all Columbus citizens. With this logic, then, if the Dispatch stopped printing its newspaper, I’m sure we would all be more informed citizens.

Monday, Sept. 27, 6-7:30pm
Wine and Cheese fund-raiser with the
Green Party Governor and Lieutenant Governor Candidates
Dennis Spisak and Anita Rios
Come meet Dennis and Anita, learn about Green Party key issues, get involved!
1021 E. Broad St., side door, parking in rear

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Tuesday, Sept. 28, 7:30pm
“Wetback” – The Undocumented Documentary
Free Press free film night
Drexel Theater, 2254 E. Main St., Bexley, Ohio
Sponsored by the Free Press, Central Ohio Green Education Fund and the League of United Latin American Citizens
Wetback, a quietly commanding documentary, follows in the footsteps of immigrants traveling on an extraordinary and extremely dangerous journey from Central America to “el Norte” – the United States. On their journeys, they encounter gangs and vigilantes, as well as border patrol. But these immigrants navigate real-life nightmares with uncanny calm, grace, even humor in their perilous pursuit of a better life. This powerful film puts into perspective the lives of those labeled “illegals” in this time of hostility toward immigrants in the United States. And director Arturo Perez Torres does all of us a favor by getting out of the way and allowing them to tell their stories. The film has won many awards, including Best Documentary, Cinequest Film Festival; Best Story, Festival Pamplona Punto de Vista; Spectrum Award Full Frame; and Audience Award, Chicago Latino Film Festival.

by Bob Fitrakis

Attorney General Betty Montgomery vows to close the “loophole” that allows doctors to prescribe marijuana in Ohio; the governor’s spokesperson claims “it was snuck into the bill” unbeknownst to the Guv; and Franklin County Judge Dale Crawford asks, “How did it get there?” It’s called democracy and the legislative process.

O.K., so Voinovich, Montgomery and Crawford are all incompetent public officials incapable of either following publicly debated legislation or reading a newspaper.

That’s the only logical conclusion one can draw after reading last Wednesday’s Dispatch article, “State smokin’ over pot loophole,” and last Thursday’s “Lawmakers hid rule in plain sight.”

“Hid?” Hogwash. Poppycock. Twenty-mule-team dung droppings. Dispatch writer Catherine Candisky’s lead in Wednesday’s article is curious. “Ohio lawmakers quietly legalized the medical use of marijuana last summer . . . ,” scribed she. Evidently, she doesn’t read her own paper. On March 25, 1996, the Big D’s Dennis Fiely penned an excellent and informative piece, “Forbidden Medicine.” The balanced and non-hysterical article is well worth rereading. Or, in Voinovich’s, Montgomery’s and Crawford’s cases, a first reading. Had that clueless collage read the story in the first place, they might have seen the following:

“Senate Bill 2, one of Ohio’s crime bills, recognizes the medical use of marijuana as an ‘affirmative defense’ when an offender has a prior written recommendation from a doctor.” Or that, “The law, which will go into effect July 1, seems to lend ‘some credence to the idea that a doctor is on safe ground to make the recommendation’…”

Either our outraged trio was too busy thinking up new ways to throw AIDS and cancer patients into prison for using marijuana to relieve their suffering; or perhaps the three simply smoked something that impaired their memory.

The Dispatch articles are reminiscent of the heyday of the Hearst papers’ “yellow journalism.” William Randolph Hearst-“Citizen Hearst”-pioneered mass-hysteria reporting at the turn of the century. Hearst papers demanded prohibitions against alcohol, cigarettes, public dancing and popular music. The anti-Hispanic bigot had both a financial and ideological stake in his campaign against hemp and “marijuana,” both legal products in the U.S. before Hearst’s crusade. The hemp plant, the world’s premier renewable source of high-quality paper products, was in direct competition with poor-quality, highly acidic wood pulp paper that Hearst had a huge financial interest in promoting. He owned timberland, paper mills, and produced wood pulp paper products with DuPont.

Although you couldn’t get high off the low THC content in industrial hemp, this didn’t deter Hearst papers from first linking hemp to “marijuana” and next to “dope” associated with narcotics. Ignoring the Spanish word for hemp, can~amo, Hearst equated hemp with “marijuana” or “Mary Jane,” a slang word for pot.

Inflamed by the Mexican revolution, Hearst’s papers’ anti-Hispanic rhetoric led to the fist local ordinance against marijuana in 1914 in El Paso, Texas. There, a City Council composed of primarily drunken cowboys outlawed marijuana because of fear of violent Mexicans.

His reporters popularized the term “marijuana” especially after the Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa seized 800,000 acres of prime timberland that Hearst owned in Mexico in 1916 and gave it to the Mexican peasants. The Mexican peasants and most of the rest of the world preferred hemp products for paper, clothing, rope and fuel.

Thus Hearst, through his newspapers, systematically demonized the use of both hemp products and the medical use of marijuana for his personal gain. Hearst’s Herald-Tribune enthusiastically promoted Mussolini’s crusade against pot in the 1920s with such headlines as “Mussolini leads way in crushing dope.”

By 1937, industrial hemp, a product grown and advocated by both Washington and Jefferson, was now illegal and the dreaded marijuana was a Schedule One narcotic-with “no therapeutic” use- alongside heroin. By contrast, both cocaine and morphine, an opium-derivative, are Schedule Two narcotics and can be prescribed by doctors.

Kenny Schweickart, spokesperson for the Ohio Industrial Hemp and Medical Use Coalition, said, “The only reason why the Dispatch recently wrote that marijuana has no recognized therapeutic benefits is because it is currently listed as a Schedule One narcotic, not because it’s actually true. Read Dennis Fiely’s earlier coverage.”

In 1988, Drug Enforcement Agency Law Judge Francis Young, after an extensive hearing, ruled that marijuana was one of the safest and most therapeutic substances known to humankind. His ruling rescheduled marijuana as a Schedule Two narcotic, but was overruled.

Marijuana, the Forbidden Medicine, a Yale University Press book, lists marijuana as medicine for not only AIDS and cancer patients but for those with chronic pain, epilepsy, glaucoma, insomnia, labor pains, menstrual cramps, migraine headaches, mood disorders, multiple sclerosis, nausea, paraplegia and quadriplegia.

Ohio’s “affirmative defense,” despite the Dispatch’s claim, does not “legalize” marijuana. It does, however, make it virtually impossible to prosecute any pot-smoker with a written prescription from a recognized physician.

Now, if the Dispatch would just quit doing its Hearst imitation and George, Betty and Dale would quit watching that Reefer Madness video, then we could alleviate some real human suffering.

Bob Fitrakis
September 13, 2010

It’s happening here: mindless nationalism coupled with the acceptable of cold-hearted mass murder. Former mayor of New York Rudolph Giuliani’s appearance on Meet the Press underscores the rise of the new American jackboot movement.

Giuliani emerged as an apologist for forces in America that seek the clash of cultures, many driven by a longing for Armageddon and a Christian fundamentalist notion of the rapture. This idea of salvation through apocalypse echoes the Nazi belief that God was on their side during the World War II in the holocaust against perceived lesser people.

Giuliani shamelessly attacked Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf for wanting to build an Islamic community center in lower Manhattan. This makes no sense. Should we fight against building Christian community centers in Oklahoma City that are within a few blocks of the old federal building? After all, Tim McVeigh was a member of the racist and radical Christian Identity sect. Shouldn’t we suspect all Christians of being terrorists and murderers because McVeigh was a Christian?

There’s the good Imam and the bad Imam, Giuliani told David Gregory. Here’s the case for Rauf being the “bad” Imam: “..there’s the bad imam who said America is an accessory to September 11.” This is worth discussing openly. The United States government helped create al Qaeda in its battle against the Soviet Union. Our nation worked closely with the Saudis to finance and train this terrorist network. We also incubated the Taliban in the madressas of Pakistan. Several of the hijackers learned how to fly in the U.S. in Oklahoma, Florida, and New York. Sure, Presidents Reagan and Bush were calling them “freedom fighters,” but they were always terrorist thugs. So, an argument that our government was an accessory is more than plausible.

Giuliani’s next accusation was that the Imam is “bad” because he said that “America has more Muslim blood on its hands than vice versa.” We should not attack the Imam because he knows basic math and refuses to tell a convenient lie. In the aftermath of the first Gulf War alone, half a million Iraqi children died as a result of our illegal and inhumane bombing of the Iraq infrastructure. When asked by CBS’ Lesley Stahl on 6o Minutes asked Secretary of State Madeleine Albright “We have heard that half a million children have died [as a result of sanctions]. I mean, that’s more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?” Albright replied: “I think this is a very hard choice, but the price — we think the price is worth it.”

After the first 3½ years of the Iraq War, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health reported that 654,965 Iraqis as a direct result of the U.S. invasion. The Hopkins study correctly used a “but for…” analysis, a common U.S. legal analysis. That is, had the U.S. not invaded Iraq, dismantled their police and army, and shocked and awed their people and infrastructure with massive bombings, how many more people would be alive today based on the expected death rates in the country. The U.S. military only likes to count the casualties we directly kill, not the ones who die as result of the ill-planned and haphazard invasion and occupation.

The vast majority of people killed in Iraq were Islamic. We can see from these two examples alone that the U.S. government is responsible for the deaths of more than a million Muslims. This is a holocaust against a Muslin country that was not a threat to the United States, had no weapons of mass destruction and, indeed, could not fly over two-thirds of its sovereign territory due to U.S. military presence.

The government of the United States, both the Clinton and W Bush administrations, has far more Muslim blood on its hands than the small U.S.-trained Islamic terrorist group al Qaeda has American blood on their hands. But, the key point is that terrorism is terrorism, and crimes against humanity are crimes against humanity whether done by the Bush administration or by bin Laden.

As long as the U.S. government continues to deny that its last president George W. Bush is a war criminal who should have been hung along with Saddam Hussein for crimes against humanity, we will proceed along a path that leads to endless war against Islamic people. This new crusade, that is blasphemy against Jesus, the Prince of Peace, will be embraced by opportunists like Giuliani. Giuliani’s rhetoric about Ground Zero signals that facts don’t matter, only blind nationalism, and that genocide against Muslims is acceptable. Gott Mit Uns.

Bob Fitrakis is Editor & Publisher of, where this article first appeared.

Fight Back August 12, 2010 Diebold, Recorded August 12, 2010
Dr. Robert Fitrakis PHD JD and Connie Gadell-Newton JD
Diebold voting machines in the news, Columbus City Council secret meetings.

Saturday, September 11, 2010
Free Press Second Saturday Salon

6pm-midnight. Enjoy the company of friends and fellow progressives with food, drink, music and more. A presentation by WCRS and others, and an outdoor drum circle are featured. BYOD – Bring Your own Drum. Sponsored by the Free Press and the Central Ohio Green Education Fund.

Location: 1021 E. Broad St., Columbus, OH

Living Downstream

Wednesday, September 1, 2010 @ 7:00 PM.
Gateway Film Center – 1550 North High Street
Presented by the Columbus International Film + Video Festival and the Ohio Environmental Council (OEC)

The CIF+VF kicks off its 2010 Early Bird Screenings with a fundraiser for the Ohio Environmental Council. “Living Downstream”, a film by Chanda Chevannes, Living Downstream is a powerful reminder of the intimate connection between the health of our bodies and the health of our air, land and water. Based on the acclaimed book by ecologist and cancer survivor Sandra Steingraber, Ph.D., Living Downstream is an eloquent and cinematic feature-length documentary. This poetic 85-minute film follows Sandra during one pivotal year as she travels across North America, working to break the silence about cancer and its environmental links.
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Tickets are $8.50 for adults and $5.00 for students. Convenient $1 parking (up to 4 hours) is available year round in the GFC garage located right next door to the cinema on both 9th and 11th avenues (purchase $1 parking at the box office).

Check out the Free Press review: