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Free Press Free Fourth Tuesday Film Night “Black Lives Matter”

Free Press free film night:
“Black Lives Matter”
Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Free Press free fourth Tuesday film night:
Black Lives Matter Newsreel: Why Columbus Needs a Citizens Review Board
Tues, March 24, 7:30pm, Drexel Theater, 2254 E. Main St.
Police shootings of citizens in Columbus are almost always ruled as justified, the Columbus Dispatch reported. “Of seven cities surveyed by The Dispatch — all similar in size to Columbus — Columbus had the second-highest rate of police shootings, both fatal and nonfatal, in 2013. Last year, the city ranked fourth, at 1.1 shootings per 100,000.”
To highlight the need for a civilian review board to investigate officer-involved shootings, videographer Will Delphia has compiled a newsreel of footage from the local and regional #BlackLivesMatter movement.
Discussion will follow.
colsfreepress@gmail.com or 614-253-2517

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To Cuba With Love

by Bob Fitrakis
FEBRUARY 21, 2015

Americans In Cuba With Love

“…Cuba’s voice is a voice that must be heard in the United States of America. Yet it has not been heard. It must now be heard because the United States is too powerful, its responsibilities to the world and to itself are too great, for its people not to be able to listen to every voice of the hungry world.” ~ C. Wright Mills, Listen, Yankee: The Revolution in Cuba, 1960.

Mills’ words are unfortunately still true today. Cuban people remain hungry and we have not heard their voices because the U.S. has silenced them for more than 50 years by imposing a brutal “blockade” that we call an “embargo.” If any ship in the world goes to a Cuban port, they may not enter a U.S. port for six months. Any company that trades with Cuba is banned from the U.S. market. If any product uses any materials, pieces or parts from Cuba, it is not allowed to be sold in the United States.

Cuba’s crime? Being the only nation in the western hemisphere with the cojones to resist the world’s only “megapower.”

It appears that President Barack Obama however, in the aftermath of a thrashing by the Republican Party in the midterm Congressional elections, suddenly heard the whispers of his own conscience and the Cuban people. On December 17, he announced the re-establishment of diplomatic relations with the largest island in the Caribbean.

The action is largely symbolic, but did make it a bit easier for U.S. citizens to go to Cuba. You can now take an 80 minute-flight directly from the United States, receive an official visa and have a Cuban stamp on your passport. No more sneaking through Mexico or Canada, though you still cannot visit as a tourist.

We visited as educators and journalists with the folks from Code Pink.

Senator John McCain recently called Code Pink “low-life scum” for recently attempting a citizens’ arrest of Henry Kissinger for war crimes. The Code Pink organizers spurned in the U.S., sought affection elsewhere when they sent a delegation of 150 people “To Cuba with Love” from February 8-15, 2015. I was part of that “largest group to visit Cuba from the United States.” Code Pink director Medea Benjamin saw the trip as the “move toward world peace” and a “powerful solidarity message” to the Cuban people.

Because Cuba exists in part in a strange 1950s time warp thanks to the embargo that began in 1961 and continues to this day. The city of Havana seems frozen in time, like a 1950s postcard faded and frayed at the edges. The city of Havana’s architecture varies from crumbling but still stunning Spanish Colonial mansions to brightly colored stucco haciendas to huge art deco and art nouveau apartment buildings with each unit sporting its own balcony. In the rural areas, Cuba appears more Amish and pre-industrial with farmers using oxen and horse-drawn plows.

Cuban native Jesus Noguera Ravelo invited a small Code Pink group to his home in Havana, where he answered questions about life in Cuba and its future. He insisted that there has been more change in the last ten years than in the previous thirty.

Revalo had originally aspired to be a diplomat and majored in international studies. He was working on his Masters when he realized that, rather than stamping visas all day, he should be using his fluency in English to share the Cuban experience with English speaking visitors as a tour guide.

Tourism has been either the first or second leading industry in Cuba since the early 1990s. A key point is that Canada never broke diplomatic ties with Cuba and the rest of the English speaking world now has normal relations with the country.

The entire Code Pink group was greeted at the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the People (ICAP) by its President Ricardo Alarcon, who served for 30 years as Cuba’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations (UN) and was President of the National Assembly of People’s Power from 1993 to 2013. He expressed hope that the Code Pink visit would be an “exchange of knowledge.”

While the head of ICAP was encouraged by the restoration of diplomatic ties after President Kennedy broke them off 55 years ago, he called the remaining embargo of Cuba continuing “economic warfare.” He called Obama’s decision “very positive.”

Alarcon questioned the logic of Cuba remaining one of four countries on the U.S. list of governments that sponsor terrorism, along with Iran, Sudan and Syria. That’s right – North Korea isn’t on the list nor was Libya when the U.S. and NATO attacked it in 2011. He pointed out the irony of the United States torturing people at Guantanamo while labeling Cuba a terrorist state.

He also mentioned the hypocrisy of any demand by the U.S. for Cuba to restore fundamental human rights. The point was well made, since the U.S. is the world’s largest surveillance state and tortured both the guilty and innocent on Cuban soil at Guantanamo. Most Cubans we talked with conceded that there were problems in Cuba, but wondered why a country they associated with torture and the open shooting of blacks on the streets of major U.S. cities would be so concerned about Cuban human rights instead of putting their own house in order.

Alarcon also noted that the U.S. retains great relations with many countries that do not recognize fundamental human rights, especially rights of women. He proudly pointed out that Cuba’s Parliament is 48.8 percent female and the governments of the local provinces elected 46 percent women. Currently the U.S. Congress had 19.4 percent women.

Alarcon also reminded the delegates that since 2003, Cuban mothers and fathers receive one year paid maternity/paternity leave. The U.S. government has no law requiring paid leave for new parents.

Cuba, after being abandoned by the Soviet Union in 1991 is transitioning away from its old Soviet-style model of state planning of economy used in the 60s, 70s and 80s. In the new economy, the country – having survived the “Special Period” of the 1990s when the Soviet Union withdrew support – some 440,000 workers are now self-employed. Revalo is now one of the so-called self-employed Cubans. Virtually all Cubans worked for the state government until the Special Period.

Alarcon noted “we should not be afraid of capitalists. This time it won’t be like when Columbus came.” He emphatically stated, “Cuba is not for sale. You must get the approval of the government, which will say yes or no” to capital investment in the country.

Our tour guide Betty, who works for the same co-op travel agency as Jesus, told us we need to remember that “most Cubans owned nothing in 1959 when the nationalization of property occurred. Fidel recognizes we have made mistakes. Here we are now without any model, without anybody to look to, working out our problems.”

Ravelo said that one of the country’s major changes was moving from sugar-only agriculture to diversified organic farming “because they had to.” Without financial credits from the Soviet Union and a guaranteed market for the sugar exports, Cuba could no longer employ the industrial strength model of heavy herbicides and pesticides.

When asked why there was not better internet service in Cuba and whether it had to do with an authoritarian government, Alarcon answered that it was “because the U.S. does not permit us” to get internet service and it has to go through Canada which never broke relations with Cuba.

Alarcon offered a question to the delegates: “Why did your government make it so hard to come to Cuba? We invite you to come and make up your own mind. Why does your government stop people from coming and making up their own mind? One state cannot dictate to another state.”

He also suggested that one day the people of the U.S. may not be under the control of a “plutocracy” but it may “take some time” and that “we don’t want to impose a social revolution on the United States.”

The Code Pink delegates listened to the Cuban people, shared knowledge and ideas, and agreed to take their words back to the people of the United States. Their key request is that the U.S. government end the blockade. The second request is to remove Cuba from the state-sponsored terrorist list. The third request is to stop torturing detainees at Guantanamo and return that land to the Cuban people.

As C. Wright Mills stated, “If we do not listen to them, if we do not hear them well, we face all the perils of ignorance—and with these, the perils of dangerous mistakes.”

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Toledo Water Crisis with Mike Ferner and Anita Rios

Anita Rios and Bob Fitrakis talk about the Toledo water crisis, Ohio and other topics on the half hour. The first half hour is an interview with peace activist and former Toledo Mayoral candidate, Mike Ferner http://www.talktainmentradio.com/podcasts/Fight%20Back%20080414.mp3

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Franklin County Greens Sponsoring 3 Movies This Summer, Events and Meetings!

Due to the fact the Arena Grand is closed, there will be no Free Press free movie this month, however — the Franklin County Greens are sponsoring three free movies this summer!
Free Movie screening: “Kilowatt Ours” at the Franklin County Green Party Meeting
Thursday, June 20, 2013
Screening of Kilowatt Ours – 7:00 PM
Green Party Central Committee meeting 6:00 – 7:00 PM (Open business meeting)
Sierra Club and Environment Ohio are partnering to make three movies available to be shown by organizations this summer to draw attention to the problems and solutions of global warming. Franklin County Greens will be viewing the first of series, “Kilowatt Ours,” at the June meeting. We will screen “Carbon Nation” in July and “Journey to Planet Earth/Plan B – Mobilizing to Save Civilization” in August. These screenings are free and open to the public. Location: FCGP meets every third Thursday at the Northwood Building, 2231 N. High St., room 100 (parking available behind the building).
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Join Franklin County Greens in the Pride Parade!
Saturday, June 22, 2013
We will line-up on Front St. between Broad and Main Street between 10:00 AM and Noon. Watch for our banners and Green Party Volunteer t-shirts. We’ll send out the exact location of our position in the parade later this week. Please let us know if you plan to walk with us and contact cmhammond11@att.net if you need more information.

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WCRS Podcast – fightback The Other Side of the News – April 29, 2013 – May Day, food riot and drones

WCRS Podcast – fightback
The Other Side of the News – April 29, 2013 – May Day, food riot and drones

Submitted by fightback on Sun, 04/28/2013 – 6:51pm
in Atlanta drones food riot Jim Leftwich May Day
Bob Fitrakis talks with Free Press investigative reporter Gerry Bello about May Day, a newer food riot in Atlanta and drones in central Ohio.

30:00 minutes (27.47 MB)

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“Free Angela — and all political prisoners!” Gateway Theater, OSU campus

“Free Angela — and all political prisoners!”
Thursday, May 9 – 7:00pm
Gateway Theater, OSU campus
This event will only happen if 42 more people reserve a ticket before May 2.
Reserve yours today: http://www.tugg.com/events/3631
Join us for this special one-night-only screening of Free Angela And All Political Prisoners, the gripping documentary on legendary activist and icon Angela Davis. Seating is limited, so reserve your tickets now and invite your friends and family to attend.
Visit http://goblackcentral.com for more information on this event. Support African-American filmmaker, Shola Lynch.

Free Angela is a gripping historic account of the events that catapulted a young University of California philosophy professor into a controversial political icon in the turbulent late 1960’s. Angela Davis joins the Communist Party, protests with the Black Panthers, and becomes a principle spokesperson for the burgeoning prison reform movement. As a result, she finds herself Fighting to keep her job, and in the national media spotlight characterized by her many detractors as a dangerous subversive menace, and by her supporters as a strong leader challenging authority and boldly advocating for “Power to All People.” So on August 7th, 1970, when Angela is implicated in the politically motivated kidnapping and murder of a judge in a brazen daylight shootout at the Marin County, CA courthouse, the nation wonders and Newsweek magazine asks: “What would prompt the daughter of the black bourgeoisie to take a desperate turn to terrorism?” Angela flees California, convinced she will not be given a fair trial and is placed on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted list. After a national manhunt she is captured two months later in New York City. Charged with murder, kidnapping and conspiracy, Angela is put on trial in one of the most sensational court cases of its time. After a two-year legal battle, an all white jury acquits her on all charges in 1972. It’s an edge-of-your seat thriller told for the first time by Angela and others who lived through the events firsthand. The interviews recount the politics that led her to challenge authority and spur a worldwide movement for her freedom that cemented Angela Davis, and her signature Afro hairstyle, as an iconic symbol of this still relevant political and social movement — the right to challenge the system. Free Angela is a must see documentary! A candid and powerful account of the tumultuous times and a woman who challenges a society that is afraid of all that she represents. Filled with elements of intrigue, suspense and conspiracies, the film delivers by empowering and inspiring diverse international audiences with its message of hope and redemption. You know her name. Now, you will finally know her story. Follow the conversation on Twitter! #FreeAngela

There will be a brief open discussion following the film.

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The body sock for an autistic kid: Trickle down torture in Columbus City School

Bob Fitrakis
March 31, 2013

First, we were desensitized to water-boarding at Gitmo and electrical shocks to the genitalia at Abu Ghraib. Now torture has trickled down to elementary schools in the U.S. with the “body sock” for autistic kids.

Recently, Naqis Cochran, a ten-year-old autistic child, was restrained with a device known as a “body sock” at Columbus’s South Mifflin Elementary School. The Sock served as Naqis’ punishment for laughing during class. This restraining device is made of stretchy, purple lycra material that is zipped to cover a child’s arms, legs and head. While zipped inside the Sock, the autistic boy fell on his face and knocked out a permanent front tooth, requiring two emergency root canal surgeries.

The teacher told WCMH-TV in Columbus that she instructed Naqis not to move with the Sock on. Again, Naqis is autistic and asthmatic, a point stressed repeatedly by his parents Asad Shabazz and Amatullah Shields on my Talktainmentradio.com radio show last Wednesday. Just like with water-boarding, any person would tend to panic when their head, arms, and legs are encased and zipped into a physical restraining device.

Imagine your reaction if somebody put you into the equivalent of a straight jacket with a hood completely covering your face. The last time I heard of similar techniques is when I was monitoring the torture of dissidents by the fascist government of El Salvador in the 1980s and early 90s.

When the parents made a lawful request for public records related to the incident, the South Mifflin School principal told them that no such documents had been filed. Neither was there a record related to Naqis’ injury, nor was the emergency squad called after he fell and knocked the tooth out. His mother stated on the radio that her child is not violent and, due to his autism, would have a difficult time defending himself in any way.

“It doesn’t make any sense to put a restraining device on my special needs child,” she stated, “I feel it is child abuse.”

Naqis’ father noted that neither he nor his wife had authorized use of the body sock and were completely unaware of it. “It was not in Naqis’ IEP [Individual Education Plan],” Amatullah said. “They never told us that he did anything that required restraint.”

Another Columbus City School student’s mother has a similar story: “My son attended Winterset Elementary School and they put him in a similar body outfit that restrained his arms. I was not scheduled to visit but had to drop something off for my other son when I found him in that restraining suit. The teacher said that she had to restrain him because he goes after her coffee. Unbelievable. My son has a seizure disorder as well.”

Dennis Spisak, a 20-year school principal, elected member of the Struthers City Board of Education, and the father of two autistic children, pointed out that “Such devices require specific training and many autistic children, including his son, recoils from being touched. The use of any such device with his son would be unacceptable.”

Spisak stressed that if the child is falling over in a body sock and knocking out his teeth, it is clearly negligent supervision.

Columbus City Schools are currently under fire for two major scandals: the altering of students’ achievement records to improve the district’s rating and corruption charges involving No Child Left Behind tutoring centers. In recent years, the Columbus School Board moved its meeting time to hours during most people’s normal work hours making it difficult for parents to attend. They also banned people from speaking on any issue unless it is an issue to be voted upon at that meeting. One well-known school activist, the late Jerry Doyle, was arrested for trespassing at the podium after they granted him permission to speak and failed to notify him of the new policy. He spent 90 days in jail and subsequently a week without his diabetic medicine, which caused a leg infection and amputation prior to his death shortly after.

Putting kids in body socks is unacceptable even for the Orwellian school administrators in Columbus. It is an outrageous, overreaction to a child’s behavior, unless you’re conditioning them for accepting torture from an authoritarian regime.

In this perfect storm of casual torture, burgeoning ranks of autistic kids, and cover-ups by the Columbus City School system, it remains clear that parents and the public need to demand that the practice of using body socks immediately stop.

Our tax dollars should not be spent on torturing kids. Special needs kid must get the services they require, not child abuse they don’t deserve.

Bob Fitrakis is editor and publisher of The Free Press.

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Free Press Second Saturday Salon

Free Press Second Saturday Salon
Saturday, March 9
1021 E. Broad St., east side door, parking in front or rear

Welcoming progressive friends with refreshments, music, art, networking, presentations, and socializing.
Presentations on Re-examining Lucasville conference, efforts to reform Columbus City Council and more.
truth@freepress.org, 253-2571

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No 4th Tues Movie, Bring back Columbus Public Access

Attention Free Press activists: There will be NO Fourth Tuesday Free Movie at the Drexel this month.
Help restore free speech forum in Columbus: Please see below for an action you can take to support the city of Columbus to bring back public access TV:
Action Alert:
City Council will be finalizing its budget over the coming days … please send a note evidencing your support for public access to the following member at your earliest opportunity. Also, please ask others in your circle to do the same. Troy Miller chairs the Technology Committee, which is where we presented our testimony and where we sent our follow up letter/written request:
Dear Neighborhood Leaders:
I am writing on behalf of the Ad Hoc Committee for Public Access Television, and requesting you to contact Columbus City Council and voice your support for city funding for the return of public access television to the residents of Columbus. Our proposal seems to have been received favorably by council member Troy Miller and Technology Director Gary Cavin, and additional public support could tip the scales toward funding as council makes final budget decisions over the next several days.
The Ad Hoc Committee for Public Access Television (CPAT) is comprised of Central Ohioans who believe that the public interest would greatly benefit from a more diverse local media. In December budget hearing testimony and follow up correspondence, we have asked Columbus City Council to allocate $55,000 in the City’s 2013 budget as seed funding for returning public access television to Central Ohio. The community has been without this important communications medium since 2003, when funding for it was ended because of budget constraints. With the City’s budget vastly improved such that millions of dollars are being placed in the Rainy Day Fund, the CPAT believe that now is the time to restore funding for public-access TV. We ask for your support in this effort.
The City wisely kept the infrastructure in place for a return of public access TV. Local channel 21, which was previously the public access channel, is a community bulletin board that could easily again accommodate public access programming. Moreover, advances in technology have drastically lowered the costs of operating a public access station. As a result, running the station on the relatively modest budget that has been proposed is entirely feasible.
Many of us remember the controversial content of dubious-to-questionable merit that was at issue on public access a decade ago. Our committee has proposed a membership-based organization of content producers who agree to adopt community standards similar to the public broadcast standards, and within that umbrella of decency fully supporting the expression of diverse views consistent with our first amendment rights.
We believe that public access TV offers many benefits to Columbus. Among the major ones are the following.
Increasing civic participation
In his book Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community, Robert Putman of Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government describes Americans’ decreasing community involvement. He cites lower rates of voting, attendance at public meetings, membership in civic associations, service on committees, and work with political parties. He believes that these trends weaken the means by which Americans have traditionally worked together for the good of the entire community.
Our understanding is that at least some Area Commissions are trying to increase the public’s civic participation by compiling lists of organizations in their areas and helping the organizations connect with one another and the local government. Public access TV would facilitate the achievement of those goals.
Public access TV enables nonprofit groups to inform a mass audience in Central Ohio about who they are, which issues they are working on, and what opportunities for volunteer work they offer. This information motivates citizens to connect with one another and with their local government to work on important issues. It is a means of reversing the lack of civic engagement that scholars such as Putman bemoan as undermining democracy.
Improving Central Ohio’s economy
Employment has become harder to find in recent years, with millions of manufacturing and service jobs having been outsourced to other countries. In Franklin County, thousands of manufacturing jobs were lost in the last decade. Even some white-collar jobs have been outsourced or are in danger of being eliminated.
In response to these problems, many scholars are advocating that the U.S. promote employment in the creative sectors of the economy. Public access TV would give local music and video artists widespread exposure of their ideas and works. At present, they need to go to other cities for such exposure on television. The exposure spurs economic activity by increasing demand for their artistic creations and opening up more venues where they can display their talents.
In the long term, the increased knowledge and skills the public would develop by learning about and using the public access station’s technology would likely translate into many new jobs in the private sector.
Enhancing cultural enrichment
In 2006 researchers at the Urban Institute found that Columbus has the most festivals per capita in the nation. This shows that Columbus residents love exposure to new ideas, music, products, cultures, and ways of enriching their lives.
Public access TV would enable citizens to display their creativity and cultural diversity to a mass television audience in ways similar to how they do it at the community’s many festivals. Television viewers who enjoy the festivals would surely enjoy these offerings too. Similar to the festivals, the programs would be a source of education, growth, relaxation, and rejuvenation.
And for viewers having disabilities that prevent them from attending the festivals, they would be able to obtain some of the same types of information and entertainment on TV.
Counteracting local media consolidation
In recent decades the national trend has been for large media companies to acquire local news outlets. It has gotten to the point where a few gigantic conglomerates dominate the news industry and determine the views that Americans are exposed to in the mass media. Many scholars and journalists have pointed out that this consolidation has harmed democracy by crippling the media’s willingness and ability to inform the public.
Media consolidation in Columbus has gotten as bad as anywhere in the U.S., and is far worse than in many other American communities. In 2011 The Dispatch Printing Company purchased virtually all the print publications in Central Ohio, including the main alternative newspaper, The Other Paper. That’s in addition to its ownership of local TV and radio media. Recently the company announced that it is closing The Other Paper. Some have described the current Columbus media situation using terms such as “propaganda” and “mind control.” And they have quoted Carter G. Woodson’s famous statement: “If you can control a man’s thinking you do not have to worry about his actions.”
Public access TV could help counteract these problems by allowing a diversity of voices to reach a mass audience in Central Ohio. Unlike other voices currently heard on TV, the voices of the public would not be funded by big-money interests, which have gotten even more powerful on TV after the U.S. Supreme Court’s widely criticized 2010 decision in Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission.
Additionally, the voices of the public would help keep the local news media honest. Media executives would be less likely to operate in a one-sided and biased manner if they knew that members of the public had the ability to correct any propaganda and misinformation in front of a mass television audience.
Many more reasons could be given for supporting public access TV. But the CPAT believes that these four major ones are more than sufficient justification for it.
Because of the important benefits of public access TV, hundreds of U.S. cities offer it. Columbus’ failure to do so can put the city in an unfavorable light when compared to those other cities. For example, some in the local Somali community have expressed disappointment and bewilderment that Columbus does not have public access TV whereas Minneapolis, with its large Somali community, does.
In fact, the law appears to require NOColumbus City Officials to strive to provide public access TV to the community. Section 595.01(E)(4) of Title 5 of the Columbus Code states that the City’s policy regarding cable communications systems includes “the promotion of increased public . . . access and programming, in terms of quality and amount.” The law’s drafters and enactors obviously understood the significance of this subject.
Public access TV is an extremely important communications medium and would greatly benefit Central Ohio. We therefore ask you to urge City Council to approve the requested funding for it.
Jonathan C. Beard
President and CEO
Columbus Compact Corporation
1051 E. Main Street
Columbus, OH 43205
Phone: (614) 251-0926 ext. 301
Fax: (614) 251-2243

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Bob interviews Jill Stein on www.WVKO1580.com

Podcast below pictures or click here!