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The June Free Press Second Saturday Salon

Join us for the June Free Press Second Saturday Salon
Saturday, June 13, 2015
6:30 – 11 PM

Pressing Columbus, Ohio, Not Bought Out By US Investment Firm

The June Free Press Second Saturday Salon
Saturday, June 13, 6:30-11pm @ 1021 E. Broad St.
Free. No RSVP necessary.
Socialize and network with progressive friends for hors-d’oeuvres, drink, art and music. Meeting both inside and outside weather permitting.
colsfreepress@gmail.com, (614) 253-2571.

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How the City of Columbus could save us from radioactive fracking waste — but will they?

by Bob Fitrakis
November 23, 2013

The website says it all: RadioactiveWasteAlert.org.
The billboard with a young woman guzzling liquid with a radioactive warning on it under the phrase: “Don’t Frack My Water, Protect Columbus” set the stage for one of the most important public forums in the city’s history.
If we had to summarize the major themes that emerged from the Tuesday, November 12 Radioactive Frack Waste Forum, the first is this: the public has a right to know that much of the process allowing radioactive waste into the central Ohio watershed near Alum Creek is the result of hidden, behind-the-scenes maneuvering by Ohio legislators and Governor John Kasich.
Second: the frack waste is undisputedly radioactive and carcinogenic. Radium 226 found at 3000% over the allowable limit by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a long-established link to many forms of cancer, including breast and bone cancer.
Third: All landfills leak. If you put radioactivity into them, it will come out.
Fourth: Ohio has become a radioactive dumping ground for the fracking industry and is not importing the waste prohibited by the regulators in Pennsylvania and West Virginia.
Of the eight billion gallons of toxic radioactive waste injected into underground wells in Ohio over the last 30 years, half of it came from out-of –state.
Finally: Ohio is now poised to receive 19 million cubic feet of solid radioactive shell rock waste in the near future. Our 39 licensed landfills are de-regulated and open for the toxic imports.
The day before the Forum, “fracktivists” organizers went to Columbus City Council to present their well-documented findings. A few Council members noted that they had read about the radioactivity in the local news where it has been published in both the Free Press and the Columbus Dispatch, as well as reported by the local NBC affiliate, TV 4.
When Council President Andrew Ginther asked the City’s Public Health Director Theresa Long, she immediately declared, as public health directors have done in the past, that there was no threat to the health of Ohio citizens from a large radioactive waste site sitting right next to Alum Creek. She offered no data or facts with her analysis.
City Attorney Richard Pfeiffer asks the fracktivists the key question after the meeting: “What can the City of Columbus do, considering the current Ohio laws?”
That answer would be provided at the Forum. After an introduction by organizer Carolyn Harding, a series of radioactive waste experts and activists addressed this mounting health crisis. Dr. Julie Weatherington-Rice, an environmental consultant with a doctorate in soil science from Ohio State University, explained in detail what Long missed.
“They’ve de-regulated the drill cuttings. That’s 90% of what comes out of a bore hole. The mud is regulated yet every piece of cutting is covered in mud and it dries on the rocks. So if the mud is radioactive and it dries on the rocks, it means that the cuttings are of course radioactive,” she pointed out.
Weatherington-Rice said that most of the radioactivity comes from Radium 228 and 226. These are alpha and beta emitters. What the landfills use to detect radioactivity are Geiger counters. These are designed to detect gamma emissions.
Weatherington-Rice noted that the U.S. Department of Energy protocol requires that radium is not to be field tested by a Geiger counter, but isolated in a lab for 21 days to get a proper radioactivity reading. As she pointed out, amended House Bill 59, Ohio’s 2013 budget bill, has de-regulated “90% of the waste stream with no record-keeping requirement because they are calling the material ‘beneficial use.’”
For more than 30 years, Weatherington-Rice has been one of Ohio’s leading experts on groundwater protection. Long did not consult her before answering Columbus City Council members.
Terry Lodge, an environmental attorney from Toledo, detailed the backroom dealings that allowed radioactive material to be dumped so close to Columbus’ drinking water. He spoke of new Ohio laws that permit the “downblending” of highly toxic radioactive waste into less toxic material, freeing it from regulation. He also explained how defining drill cuttings as “beneficial use” as liners in landfills it can avoid testing or monitoring.
Lodge ended by saying, “I’m an activist. I’m ready for a fight.” Lodge is famous for using “guerilla” legal and populist strategies to fight frackers and other corporate polluters.
Perhaps the most chilling presentation was given by Dr. Yuri Gorby, a microbial physiologist and ecologist, who holds the Howard N. Blitman Chair of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He is an expert on the physical health effects of radioactivity and fracking waste. In his talk, Gorby stated that in his studies of fracking and radioactivity he noticed a variety of physical symptoms from bloody noses, burning eyes, rashes and neurological disorders including loss of memory, loss of sense of smell, anxiety, and tremors. Gorby said that he has been able to “fingerprint” through DNA many of the rashes directly to fracking. He warned that Ohio’s desire to allow the de-regulation of drill cutting with “no monitoring” will be disastrous for the health of our citizens.
His slide show, which is available at the website mentioned earlier, showed devastating illnesses among people exposed to toxic and radioactive fracking waste.
Nathan Johnson, an environmental attorney at the Forum, quickly answered the question on what the City of Columbus can do.
“They are allowed by law to establish and charge the companies for a program that would monitor for radioactivity in a proper lab test,” he said, “As long as they weren’t selective and charged everyone bringing in drill cuttings.”
On December 3 at 7pm, the group will meet again at the Columbus Public Library on Grant Street.
originally published at the freepress.org

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How the City of Columbus could save us from radioactive fracking waste — but will they?

by Bob Fitrakis
November 23, 2013

The website says it all: RadioactiveWasteAlert.org.

The billboard with a young woman guzzling liquid with a radioactive warning on it under the phrase: “Don’t Frack My Water, Protect Columbus” set the stage for one of the most important public forums in the city’s history.

If we had to summarize the major themes that emerged from the Tuesday, November 12 Radioactive Frack Waste Forum, the first is this: the public has a right to know that much of the process allowing radioactive waste into the central Ohio watershed near Alum Creek is the result of hidden, behind-the-scenes maneuvering by Ohio legislators and Governor John Kasich.

Second: the frack waste is undisputedly radioactive and carcinogenic. Radium 226 found at 3000% over the allowable limit by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a long-established link to many forms of cancer, including breast and bone cancer.

Third: All landfills leak. If you put radioactivity into them, it will come out.

Fourth: Ohio has become a radioactive dumping ground for the fracking industry and is not importing the waste prohibited by the regulators in Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

Of the eight billion gallons of toxic radioactive waste injected into underground wells in Ohio over the last 30 years, half of it came from out-of –state.

Finally: Ohio is now poised to receive 19 million cubic feet of solid radioactive shell rock waste in the near future. Our 39 licensed landfills are de-regulated and open for the toxic imports.

The day before the Forum, “fracktivists” organizers went to Columbus City Council to present their well-documented findings. A few Council members noted that they had read about the radioactivity in the local news where it has been published in both the Free Press and the Columbus Dispatch, as well as reported by the local NBC affiliate, TV 4.

When Council President Andrew Ginther asked the City’s Public Health Director Theresa Long, she immediately declared, as public health directors have done in the past, that there was no threat to the health of Ohio citizens from a large radioactive waste site sitting right next to Alum Creek. She offered no data or facts with her analysis.

City Attorney Richard Pfeiffer asks the fracktivists the key question after the meeting: “What can the City of Columbus do, considering the current Ohio laws?”

That answer would be provided at the Forum. After an introduction by organizer Carolyn Harding, a series of radioactive waste experts and activists addressed this mounting health crisis. Dr. Julie Weatherington-Rice, an environmental consultant with a doctorate in soil science from Ohio State University, explained in detail what Long missed.

“They’ve de-regulated the drill cuttings. That’s 90% of what comes out of a bore hole. The mud is regulated yet every piece of cutting is covered in mud and it dries on the rocks. So if the mud is radioactive and it dries on the rocks, it means that the cuttings are of course radioactive,” she pointed out.

Weatherington-Rice said that most of the radioactivity comes from Radium 228 and 226. These are alpha and beta emitters. What the landfills use to detect radioactivity are Geiger counters. These are designed to detect gamma emissions.

Weatherington-Rice noted that the U.S. Department of Energy protocol requires that radium is not to be field tested by a Geiger counter, but isolated in a lab for 21 days to get a proper radioactivity reading. As she pointed out, amended House Bill 59, Ohio’s 2013 budget bill, has de-regulated “90% of the waste stream with no record-keeping requirement because they are calling the material ‘beneficial use.’”

For more than 30 years, Weatherington-Rice has been one of Ohio’s leading experts on groundwater protection. Long did not consult her before answering Columbus City Council members.

Terry Lodge, an environmental attorney from Toledo, detailed the backroom dealings that allowed radioactive material to be dumped so close to Columbus’ drinking water. He spoke of new Ohio laws that permit the “downblending” of highly toxic radioactive waste into less toxic material, freeing it from regulation. He also explained how defining drill cuttings as “beneficial use” as liners in landfills it can avoid testing or monitoring.

Lodge ended by saying, “I’m an activist. I’m ready for a fight.” Lodge is famous for using “guerilla” legal and populist strategies to fight frackers and other corporate polluters.

Perhaps the most chilling presentation was given by Dr. Yuri Gorby, a microbial physiologist and ecologist, who holds the Howard N. Blitman Chair of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He is an expert on the physical health effects of radioactivity and fracking waste. In his talk, Gorby stated that in his studies of fracking and radioactivity he noticed a variety of physical symptoms from bloody noses, burning eyes, rashes and neurological disorders including loss of memory, loss of sense of smell, anxiety, and tremors. Gorby said that he has been able to “fingerprint” through DNA many of the rashes directly to fracking. He warned that Ohio’s desire to allow the de-regulation of drill cutting with “no monitoring” will be disastrous for the health of our citizens.

His slide show, which is available at the website mentioned earlier, showed devastating illnesses among people exposed to toxic and radioactive fracking waste.

Nathan Johnson, an environmental attorney at the Forum, quickly answered the question on what the City of Columbus can do.

“They are allowed by law to establish and charge the companies for a program that would monitor for radioactivity in a proper lab test,” he said, “As long as they weren’t selective and charged everyone bringing in drill cuttings.”

On December 3 at 7pm, the group will meet again at the Columbus Public Library on Grant Street.

originally published at the freepress.org

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Broken Democracy

The U.S. election system is broken, but you’d never know how bad it really is if you read the Columbus Dispatch. Citing a recent Pew Charitable Trust study, the Republican-owned paper stresses that Ohio ranks 29th out of 50 states in terms of worst voting practices.

A much better perspective of the nearly 6 million lost votes in the country from the 2008 election is offered by BBC investigative reporter Greg Palast. His book “Billionaires and Ballot Bandits” is a must read for those seeking to grapple with the real facts surrounding U.S. democracy. Ohio has a history since the stolen 2004 election of allowing Republican secretaries of state to purge voters in record numbers.

Those that somehow succeed in registering and voting in a state dedicated to the proposition that minorities, the poor, young, and the elderly should face difficult obstacles, often find that their votes were not counted. In the Dispatch’s recent article, they lauded Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted for moving in the right direction.

I guess that means he did OK by doubling the amount of uncounted provisional votes from 17,000 to 34,000. That’s absurd. It is also a travesty that people who haven’t voted in the last two federal elections lose their voter registration.

The only way to protect U.S. voters is through a Constitutional amendment guaranteeing the right to vote. The truth is, our system is beyond flawed. It is one that targets the most vulnerable of our citizens for election purges and vote theft.

See full article https://freepress.org/columns/display/3/2013/1961

The Dispatch Empire Strikes Back: Vader-Like Forces Of Darkness Suck The Other Paper Into A Black Hole

Bob Fitrakis
October 2, 2011

The late Herbert Marcuse, author of One Dimensional Man, and Noam Chomsky, America’s most cited scholar, both have pointed out the advantage of controlling news through private corporate conglomerates. In 1947, in his seminal book Inside USA, John Gunther called the Wolfe family of Columbus perhaps America’s most ruthless media monopoly.

Last week, the Wolfe family’s closely held private corporation, the Dispatch Printing Company, was at it again. The Dispatch bought up the last independent weekly newspapers in Columbus, owned by American Community Newspapers. They picked up the Suburban News Publication (SNP) chain of 22 local community weeklies; The Other Paper, a weekly entertainment and commentary newspaper; Columbus Monthly, the only serious magazine in the capital; and a dozen other specialty magazines including Columbus CEO and Columbus Bride. John F. Wolfe, the CEO of the Dispatch Printing Company, told Business First that, “Putting all of these titles under one roof opens up enormous and exciting possibilities for local readers.”

Really?

The Dispatch bought Columbus Alive in 2006, which was once the premier investigative weekly in the state of Ohio from 1997-2002. The paper never really recovered from the shock of 9/11 and increasingly moved away from muck-raking journalism and progressive social commentary to incredibly mundane middle-of-the-road political discourse.

Once acquired by the Dispatch, moderate discourse disappeared entirely as the paper pursued pay-to-play features to entice bar, restaurant and concert ads. There’s a massive vacuum in the capital city with the Wolfe’s Columbus Dispatch not only serving as the daily monopoly, but now its control of the Alive and The Other Paper dominates nearly all news and ad revenue in Columbus.

Democracy can only be served with more than one point of view. The Dispatch family has not endorsed a Democrat for President since Woodrow Wilson in 1916. The Wolfes, of German ancestry, exposed pro-German sentiments during World War I. On a local level, they tend to endorse Democrats they know are locks to win elections. But, the Dispatch’s clear bias is towards conservative ideology and politicians who serve their personal economic interests. Thus, their recent stunningly biased support for their longtime fair-haired boy Governor Kasich and their support for Senate Bill 5, will be their model for the former Democratic-leaning The Other Paper.

If The Other Paper survives.

The Other Paper, SNP and Columbus Monthly were originally owned by Max Brown’s CM Media, a media chain that began in 1975. Brown, an administrator under Ohio’s former Democratic Governor John Gilligan, dreamed of countering the influence of the Big Bad Wolfe family with his own media empire. He was never able to add the crown jewel, which would have been the return of a daily newspaper to provide a different perspective than the Dispatch.

The Dispatch destroyed their only daily competitor, the Columbus Citizen-Journal, at the end of 1985. The Dispatch simply failed to renew a joint operating agreement with the Citizen-Journal, which lacked its own printing facilities.

Brown’s vision of challenging the Wolfes centered around his ability to do his own printing with CM Printing. This ended when he sold CM Media and his printing presses to American Community Newspapers in 2007. In fact, CM Printing and later American Community Newspapers printed the paper I edit, the Columbus Free Press.

The Dispatch distinguished itself in the 1990s by covering up the blatant corruption of the Voinovich administration, including Governor Voinovich’s brother Paul’s ties to organized crime. They also purposely acted as apologists allowing George Bush and Karl Rove’s theft of Ohio’s 2004 presidential election. The freepress.org will continue to report the real news in the capital The Dispatch’s power on paper is greater than ever. But, the pedestrian and propagandistic nature of their boring publications should serve to do them in.

With the internet at our disposal, we should do everything possible to boycott and discredit what remains the most ruthless media monopoly in America.

If you would like to see the Columbus Free Press published as a quarterly or monthly publication again, remember that we are a charitable 501(c)(3) and you can make your donation to us on our online store at freepress.org.


Bob Fitrakis is the Editor of the Free Press and freepress.org and former investigative reporter for the Columbus Guardian and award-winning investigative journalist for Columbus Alive, where he authored a column “Bob Bites Back.”