Focus Video Collective
August 2008 Newsletter
August 2008 Newsletter
PMB 248 • 3439 NE Sandy Bv • Portland, OR 97232
(503) 239-7456 • (503) 321-5051 • firstname.lastname@example.org
Lawyers, Activists Describe Human Rights Issues in Guantanamo
A recent Flying Focus program, "Guantanamo: Democracies and Detainees" (VB #67.6&7) features a panel discussion on legal, policy and human rights issues concerning the Guantanamo Bay prison camps, held at Reed College in March.
Speakers include Oregon Federal Public Defenders Steve Wax and Christine Moore, and attorneys William Teesdale and Samuel Kauffman.
Wax provides an historical context for the Bush Administration's attempts to justify its arbitrary seizures, secret detentions, denial of judicial process, and harsh treatment practices. He discusses the "torture memos" written by White House staffers, and the concept of "failed states," which have been used to justify denying Geneva convention protections to detainees described as "unlawful combatants."
Wax describes the horrible treatment of Adel Hassan Hamad, a Sudanese hospital administrator, who, in March 2003, was bound, gagged, and transported to Guantanamo Bay, joining hundreds of other detainees. Wax describes the ongoing efforts in the court system to restore judicial review, limit the power of the President, and restore legal protections guaranteed by the Constitution.
Moore discusses specific cases of Guantanamo prisoners, and the psychological toll that indefinite detentions have on the detainees and their families.
The month of June brought good news to the Flying Focus Video Collective. Two organizations awarded us grants to pursue important projects. The first, from the Mount Hood Cable Regulatory Commission*, is to get the basic process of our Digital Archiving Project (DAP) started. For two years, we have been anxious to begin copying our old format, 3/4² broadcast tapes onto modern, digital DV-CAM tapes to help preserve them for the future. Thanks to this generous grant, we were able to purchase a DV-CAM deck and have the first 50 of a projected 250 videotapes ready to start. Ideally, each show will be doubly backed up; that is, one backup can be used to rerun the programs on-air or create DVD/tape orders, while the other would be an archive copy that is only used in an emergency. MHCRC was very supportive of this idea, but is only granting us enough funding to make one copy of each program. So donations to Flying Focus to supplement the DAP are welcome.
We also received donations from individuals toward this project. We don't list their names here for privacy reasons, but please know that we appreciate every one of you! Your continued contributions will help ensure that we can make safety backup copies in addition to the archive copies.
The other grant is a Community Participation grant to support our efforts in documenting the Restorative Listening Project, which brings together people of various cultural backgrounds to discuss the impacts of gentrification in the Portland area. This grant came from the Multnomah County Cultural Commission* and the Oregon Cultural Trust. Watch for upcoming programs on the Flying Focus Video Bus featuring these important community dialogues.
As always, your donations of any kind to help us continue educating the public on all the topics included here and more are greatly appreciated.
*The Mt Hood grant is derived from funds of the Comcast corporation. While both grants technically come from the government, and this one from a corporation, neither of the grants has put a restriction on Flying Focus in any way in terms of content or tone. Comcast takes the money from cable bills, and the government from taxes, so the money is originally from the public.
Americans Need to Know!
In a recent Zogby Poll, three quarters of those asked could name 3 of the Stooges - Larry, Curly & Moe - but only 42% were able to name the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of US government. We need an educated public if we are to progress beyond the autocracy that passes itself off as the government in the U.S. Thanks for helping us get some information out there!
What's Worse than NAFTA?
The Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) of North America is a little-known agreement that bypasses Congress and bolsters NAFTA with firepower. In "SPP (NAFTA with guns)" (VB #67.10&11), activists from Mexico and Canada describe the harmful effects that NAFTA has had on those countries and the plans that multinational corporations have to expand and increase their powers through the SPP. They spoke at the First Unitarian Church in Portland, Oregon on April 8, 2008.
In February, 2008 a panel representing mental health consumers and psychiatric survivors spoke on organizing for change in the mental health system. Two survivors of an abusive psychiatric system who became activists appear in "Mind Freedom: Mental Health Choice and Empowerment" (VB #66.13).
David Oaks, director of Mind Freedom International based in Eugene, describes his efforts to give choice, freedom, and human rights priority within the system. He talks about his own experience, how mental health consumers are being shut out of the debate, why more money put into failed programs isn't the answer, and the best strategies to get local politicians to act. He explores the problems caused by the influence of the pharmaceutical industry in mental health, including within the prison system. He also asserts the principle of personal choice over use of psychiatric drugs as opposed to the forced drugging that often occurs, promoting change by peaceful revolution. Second is Dan Fisher, the director of the National Empowerment Center in Massachusetts, another psychiatric survivor who became a psychiatrist, and now works both within and without the system.
Flying Focus recently presented two programs focusing on occupation in Iraq and Palestine.
Two Iraqi American women give voice to concerns about the continued U.S. presence in the Middle East in "Iraqi Americans Speak: End the U.S. Occupation" (VB #68.1). Israa Hasani and Aseel Dyck, both from the Portland area, give background on Iraq's history and U.S. involvement, speaking at an "action tent" during the March 15, 2008 rally protesting the fifth anniversary of the invasion.
Hasani focuses on the problems faced by Iraqis since the American government began actively engaging in Iraq's affairs in the 1950s; she asks, "Can it get worse?" And with each new policy, from the war with Iran to the 1991 bombing to the sanctions to the invasion, it seems the answer is yes. Dyck, a retired historian and librarian, points out that Iraq's multi-ethnic and multi-religious unity that existed for centuries has been shattered by the U.S. occupation. Shi'a, Sunni, Kurds, Christians and others shared the land known as Iraq in one way or another for thousands of years. Her critique of U.S. policy leads her to conclude that withdrawing American troops can produce nothing worse than what is happening due to their presence.
The other show, "Wheels of Justice Tour 2008: Iraq and Palestine" (VB #67.2&3), features eyewitness speakers who rolled into Portland in late February in a peace-painted, biodiesel bus to show and talk about occupation. In their March 1st appearance at First Unitarian Church, Mazin Qumsiyeh and Mike Miles offered firsthand experience devoid of partisan politics, saying that justice and human rights are the only real roadmap for peace.
Qumsiyeh is a Palestinian American author and former Professor of Genetics; Miles is a founder of Anathoth Community Farm in Wisconsin who has spent time in both Iraq and Palestine. Qumsiyeh shows slides of the "Security Fence"-- aka the Separation Wall, notes mainstream media's reluctance to tell a balanced tale of Israel/Palestine, and talks of how he was shot at by the Israeli military while attending a protest. Miles ties the current occupation of Iraq back to the 12 years of sanctions and the 1991 US invasion, while offering hope in the form of song. For more information on the bus, check out http://www.JusticeWheels.org.
Two new programs focus on women. In "Bolivia Int. WILPF Congress 2007" (VB #66.9&10), FFVC associate Yvonne Simmons, who is also a member of WILPF USA, attended and videotaped some of the speakers at the conference. Members from many countries met in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, to work on and vote for resolutions for peace and justice worldwide. This program focuses on the political situations and needs of women in Central and South America, especially indigenous women. It features the international President and other WILPF officers discussing war and peace, globalization, the environment, U.S. military bases and pleas for women to unite in order to affect change (info: http://www.wilpf.org).
"Support for the Women of Africa" (VB #66.5 &6), highlights programs helping women in Africa to become more independent and to rebuild their communities. Women from DR Congo speak about the issues facing their country and the help that Run for Congo Women and Women for Women International are providing. Another segment features volunteers from the Women's Bicycle Project speaking in Portland about the work they have been doing in Ghana to help women become more mobile and self-sufficient in a country where only 1% of people can afford cars. For more info visit http://www.runforcongowomen.org.