Flying Focus Video Collective

February 2004 Newsletter

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John Lewis - Modern Day Hero

Rep. John Lewis of Georgia grew up in a small town in Alabama. In 1956, at the age of 16, he applied for a library card and was told they were for whites only. In 1998, he went back for a book signing for his book, "Walking with the Wind," and was given a card. "The Civil Rights Movement Then and Now" (VB #48.5 & 6) features a talk Lewis gave for the Archdiocese of Portland, Oregon about the intervening years. During this time, he studied non-violence in college, participated in sit-ins, marched with Martin Luther King, Jr., and was beaten by Southern mobs and police until almost dead. He spoke of the non-violent revolution of the civil rights movement and called for a similar movement to stop war and demand that our leaders use our resources to build a better world, not to kill. An inspiring speaker, John Lewis is one politician who walks his talk.

Kurdish Perspective

One of the most important human rights dilemmas in the Middle East is that of the Kurds. A half-hour program, "Kurdish Perspective" (VB #49.1), features Dr. Azad Mohammadi and Dr. Jon Mandaville in a discussion on Kurdish desire for regional and cultural autonomy. It addresses the impact of the war in Iraq on the Kurds, the war between Turkey and the PKK (Kurdistan People's Party) and the efforts to control the water supply. Presented April 24, 2003, about a month into the Iraq war, the speakers also discuss Saddam Hussein's war against the Kurds and mistrust of superpowers. Other topics covered include the secular Kurdish Democratic Party vs. the Islamic Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), the regional differences of Kurds in Iraq, Iran and Turkey, as well as Kurds' Jewish origins.

A Different View Of The Palestinian Question

Rev. Canon Naim Ateek is a Palestinian Anglican priest and the founder and director of the Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center in Jerusalem. He is the author of "Justice and Only Justice: A Palestinian Theology of Liberation." He spoke at an August 2003 Conference for Peacemakers in Portland ("A Christian Palestinian's View of the Roadmap" VB#49.13).

In his talk, he described how the native Palestinians' land has been taken away and how they have been treated as less than human. He decried the Palestinian suicide bombers as well as the Israeli government's policies of political subjugation, land appropriation, and cultural humiliation. He emphasized the importance of treating all involved with dignity and respect, and spoke of the Roadmap as the last chance for peace between people living in the Palestinian territories and Israel. He shared his dream of two states in federation and reminded us that there can be no peace without justice.

Flying Focus Video Bus Marks 12 Years

In November, Flying Focus produced our "Twelfth Busiversary" (VB #49.8&9), marking 12 years since our weekly half-hour program premiered in 1991.This show features all 6 of the volunteers who produced a total of 25 new programs between December 2002 and October 2003. Flying Focus volunteers, usually hidden behind the scenes, introduce clips from their shows.

This year featured a number of shows about the war on Iraq, several on civil rights issues, an environmental show, and a "guest" video from Amnesty International on Guatemala. A new section of our catalog entitled "Organizing for Change" was created after we presented three Oregon Peace Institute workshops regarding group organization and dynamics. All of these programs appear in short clips on the Busiversary.

Contributions by at least 8 other volunteers, whether acting as studio crew, field camera operators or general assistants, also made this show possible. Finishing up the program is FFVC producer Yvonne Simmons, who introduces a short tribute to her canine companion, Mischief, the peace dog, who died in April 2003.

This program was partially edited on our Macintosh G4 computer and was compiled by Flying Focus founding member Dan Handelman and Martin Evans, who’s been an FFVC volunteer for the past eight years.


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Notes From The Field: Sound, Camera, Action!

We consider ourselves lucky when we get two weeks' notice for a lecture, allowing time to contact volunteers and reserve equipment. The preparation is similar for an interview. The site check, done a week before the event, lets us look for electrical outlets and listen for motor or street noise.

On the day of taping, we (the camera operator in training and a coach) arrive an hour before the event starts to stake out a good camera vantage point. We bring twice as many batteries and tapes as we think we'll need.

We want to place the microphone as close to the person speaking as possible. If the speaker habitually walks about the stage, we may need a wireless lapel (Lavalier) mic. Another option in a lecture scenario is a mic strapped to the house mic. We can choose a mic with an omni-directional, cardioid (slightly directional), or hypercardioid (narrow) pickup pattern, depending on how much we want to restrict the source of the sound. In a sit down scenario, the interviewer and interviewee can each wear a lapel mic. XLR cabling between a mic and a mixer reduces outside interference because it’s shielded.

PC Peri is field coordinator for Flying Focus. For a longer version of this article, click here.

Veteran Protests Army Use Of Depleted Uranium Munitions

In his fall 2003 speech in Portland, retired Army Major Doug Rokke detailed the long-term health effects of the use of depleted uranium on the battlefield, and the campaign of deception, denial and misinformation that has been waged by the US Army to protect its use of these weapons ("Health Effects of Depleted Uranium" VB #49.11).

Depleted Uranium (DU) munitions were first used in Gulf War 1, and since then have been used in the Balkans, Afghanistan, and again in Iraq, where over 320 tons of DU were used in 2003. DU is a waste product of nuclear reactor operation used to make highly destructive bullets and anti-tank weapons. The long term effects of the use of these weapons includes radiation damage, damage to lungs, kidneys, bone, and birth defects.

Doug Rokke was director of the US Army Depleted Uranium Project from 1994-1995, assigned to deal with the consequences of the use of these munitions. As he and his team members got sick from exposure to DU, he discovered that the military was more interested in concealing the long term health effects of these weapons than it was in the health of its own soldiers, or the civilian population.

Photojournalist Puts A Face On Iraqi Civilian Life

Several episodes this year tried to fill in the gaps in coverage of the Iraq war and occupation. The work of Portland photojournalist Joel Preston Smith is featured in "Living With the Enemy: Portraits of Daily Life in Iraq" (VB #48.8&9). Smith visited Iraq with his camera in January of 2003 to document the lives of Iraqi civilians as part of the Iraq Peace Team. He presented his work in a slide show and discussion with the audience at the Interstate Firehouse Cultural Center in June. The program includes Smith's outstanding photos, anecdotes from his trip, and audience questions.

Mr. Smith's images portray Iraqi people who are civilized, articulate, caring, neighborly, and funny. They serve as a necessary antidote to the invisibility of civilians in most of the reporting about the war and occupation. Mr. Smith is also a veteran of the U.S. armed forces who served in the Gulf War of 1991, and the founder of Bowling for Baghdad.


Program Covers A Rocky Year For Portland Police

"The Community and the Portland Police 2003" (VB #49.4&5) features Flying Focus producer Dan Handelman, also a member of Portland Copwatch, reviewing numerous events that shook Portland between May and September. Part one features the resignation of five of the nine members of the police review board and gives context for their frustration. Footage from two specific cases and other meetings expose efforts by the City, and in particular, the director of the Independent Police Review Division, to minimize the effectiveness of the review board.

In part two, the City Council accepts a harsh report by the Police Assessment Resource Center on police shootings and deaths in custody. Following that, clips from the City's (July 1) forum on the May 5 shooting of Kendra James are compared with clips of the Albina Ministerial Alliance's (September 6) community forum about the same incident. This show also addresses the departure of Chief Mark Kroeker. While there is enough material to cover police issues in Portland every week, this show gives background for those who do not follow the issues closely and a quick reference for those who do.

So Do We Have Consensus On That?

Consensus is a form of decision making that all groups need to use at times, for example when they are making really big decisions or when overlapping jurisdictions are involved. In "Building Consensus" (VB #48.11), three members of the group "Building Community Through Consensus" outline the basics of running an effective meeting with the consensus process and the skills required to get and keep participants involved. They explain the benefits of consensus (a cooperative process) over democracy (a competitive process) and offer tips on fostering commitment from group members. This program was taped at an Oregon Peace Institute workshop.


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