If you tuned in last week you would have heard Greg Palast‘s analysis of voter turnout vs voter repression in several states and how those factors helped determine the outcome of the election. This week we follow up on the recount effort with Bob Fitrakis.
The Monitor tends to cover serious news stories and this can perhaps make you feel like there is no good news out there. By way of correcting that impression, our second interview is with Justin Zimmerman of Bricker-Down Productions. He is the Director and Producer of a documentary called SMART (Specialized Mobile Animal Rescue Team).
During the show you will also hear a song called No More War Anymore by Eileen Kozloff. More about her at the end of this post and thank you to Hank Woji for giving me her CD to listen to.
More about this week’s guests:
Robert J. Fitrakis is Distinguished Full Professor of Political Science at Columbus State Community College, where he won the Distinguished Teaching Award in 1991. He was a Ford Foundation Fellow to the Michigan State legislature in 1975 and studied at the University of Sarajevo on scholarship in 1978. Fitrakis earned a J.D. from the Ohio State University Moritz College of Law in 2002. His Ph.D is in Political Science from Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. He has also taught political theory at the University of Michigan-Dearborn and political science at Wayne State University and Oakland Community College. He holds the following degrees: B.S., Political Science and History, Grand Valley State College, 1978; M.A., Political Theory, Wayne State University, 1982; Ph.D., American Government, Wayne State University, 1990; J.D., The Ohio State University
He was the Democratic candidate for Congress in the 12th District, and in 1995 ran for election to the Columbus School Board. He has written extensively about political theory, co-published a scholarly article on health-care policy, and made presentations at academic conferences on political theory, electoral politics, and public policy. He also has a radio talk show called “Fight Back!” on talktainmentradio.com (Wednesdays at 7:00pm). He publishes and edits The Free Press, a quarterly journal of opinion and new analysis. It is on the web at www.freepress.org .
Justin Zimmerman of Bricker-Down Productions is the Director and Producer of SMART (Specialized Mobile Animal Rescue Team). He is a nationally recognized writer, filmmaker and professor. He has taught in multiple colleges and programs and his production company, Bricker-Down Productions®, has been the recipient of many grants, film festival honors and awards.
Since SMART’s formation in 2009, the self-trained team has saved nearly 1,000 animals (domestic, wild, and abused animals of all kinds), including 200 this year. Covering the entire city of Los Angeles, an area of over 400 square miles encompassing 4 million people and approximately 8 million domestic animals, the team of 12 Animal Control Officers, represent the cultural melting pot that is this city, and has a 100% save rate. Due to SMART’s distinctive training, it can respond to calls that other emergency responders and Animal Control Officers are not equipped to handle, as seen in the film when they are called in to help Pee-Wee Herman (Paul Reubens) after a buck gets trapped in his backyard.
“We will do anything and everything we can to rescue an animal. We’ll go buy whatever it is we need. It’s not unusual to go to the store and put down $500 on some equipment…out of our own pocket. We just really believe in what we are doing.” –Annette Ramirez, Animal Services Personnel, SMART team member
Since its inception, SMART has inspired the creation of two other similar teams in Riverside and San Diego, and have won the Higgins & Langley Award in 2012, the top accolades for swiftwater rescue teams globally. The team’s leader (Armando Navarrete) has received department commendations in 2013 and 2014. In addition, the team also makes school visits at least once a month and participates regularly in emergency preparedness fairs.
The team is currently made up of 5 women and 7 men (Team Leader Armando Navarrete, Ernesto Poblano, Annette Ramirez, Ramon Garcia, Yvette Smith, Hoang Dinh, Hugh Briefman, Glen Julian, Verna Riparip, Tam Shepphird, Felix Lopez and Gabby Lera) representing the ethnic multiculturality of Los Angeles. In the last seven years, team members have spent almost $80,000 dollars of their own money to assist with expenses not covered by the department’s budget.
Says Animal Services General Manager Brenda Barnette, SMART’s role is “to show people that the impossible is possible.”
Directed by Justin Zimmerman (“Fireland,” “The Titanic of Southampton”) and executive produced by Kimberly Zimmerman, the 74-minute film has been an Official Selection at 19 festivals, nominated for 12 awards and won 7 including Best Feature, Best Documentary, Audience Award and Best Photography:
BEST DOCUMENTARY – Artemis Film Festival, ’16
BEST FEATURE – Animal Film Festival / Grass Valley, ’16
AUDIENCE AWARD – Animal Film Festival / Grass Valley, ’16
BEST FEATURE DOCUMENTARY – Northern Virginia International Film Festival, ’16
BEST DOCUMENTARY – Intendence Film Festival, ’16
BEST DOCUMENTARY CINEMATOGRAPHY – Southampton International Film Festival, ’16
SPECIAL RECOGNITION – Global Cinema Film Festival of Boston, ’16
BEST DOCUMENTARY NOMINEE – Cayman Islands International Film Festival, ’16
BEST DOCUMENTARY & EDITING NOMINEE – Action on Film Festival, ’16
BEST DOCUMENTARY SOUND & EDITING NOMINEE – Southampton International Film Festival, ’16
Official Selection – University of Colorado, ’15
Official Selection – Lewis & Clark College, ’15
Official Selection – Gasparilla International Film Festival, ’16
Official Selection – Green Bay Film Festival, ’16
Official Selection – Los Angeles Independent Film Festival, ’16
Official Selection – Reel Cinerama, ’16
Official Selection – MCAS / Hollywood, ’16
Official Selection – FoF / Salem, ’16
Official Selection – OCHS / City Lights, ’16
Official Selection – Central City Comic / Film Con, ’16
Official Selection – Colorado Animal Welfare Conference, ’16
Official Selection – Animal Film Festival / Del Mar, ’16
Official Selection – StarDoc Fest, ’16
Official Selection – Black Hills Film Festival, ’16
Official Selection – New Hope Film Festival, ’16
Official Selection – SF DocFest, ’16
Official Selection – Cinema at the Edge Film Festival, ’16
Official Selection – Pickford Film Center / Doctober, ’16
Official Selection – International Women’s Film Festival, ’16
Official Selection – Downtown Film Festival LA, ’16
Official Selection – Wexner Center for the Arts, ’17
Eileen Kozloff is a multi-instrumentalist who has been actively involved in the autoharp world for over a quarter of a century! She is an award winning artist, for her singing, songwriting and instrumental work. She is best known for her uique “pick-less” style of diatonic autoharp and for her soaring vocals, stunning harmonies and commanding performances. Her ability to compose, play and sing in a wide range of genres has made her a versatile festival performer and workshop teacher. In addition to performing at festivals, concerts and dance venues, Eileen has appeared live on numerous radio and television broadcasts, and for several years she was a “Rostered Artist” with the Pennsylvania Council of the Ats Artist-in Residence program. In the winter of 2012, Eileen performed and taught workshops at two Australian Folk Festivals,: Cygnet (in Tasmania) and Illawara (in Wollongong). She has been invited to return to Oz and will be adding even more venues in 2017!
He has appeared on The Monitor with Mark Bebawi several times in the past, including live unembedded reports from Iraq at the height of the US invasion. Since his return he has written two books – “The Will to Resist: Soldiers Who Refuse to Fight in Iraq and Afghanistan,” (Haymarket Books, 2009), and “Beyond the Green Zone: Dispatches From an Unembedded Journalist in Occupied Iraq,” (Haymarket Books, 2007).
More recently Dahr has been covering environmental topics. You can read his latest articles on his website. The interview will focus on the policies of the various parties on climate change.
YahNe Ndgodescribes herself as “Bernie Lover, Ubuntu Promoter, Singer, Writer, Activist, Traveler, Mother, Sister, Auntie, Daughter, Granddaughter, Cousin, Friend, Neighbor, Lover, Human Being” and gained significant attention when a CNN interview she gave went “viral”: YahNe Ndgo explains Bernie or Bust/Never Hillary
She was one of the keynote speakers at the Green Party’s convention in Houston and I interviewed her for Pacifica’s live coverage of that event. I asked her about the Sanders campaign, his supporters’ potential for voting Green, and what motivates her political activities.
The Green Party held its convention in Houston August 4-7, 2016 and the Pacifica Network was there to cover the event, including 4 hours of live coverage carried by all 5 network stations (KPFA, KPFK, KPFT, WBAI, WBFW) and many affiliates. I hosted those hours with several people (more on that below). This post is less about the coverage and more a place to share some observations and a few pictures. You are welcome to comment and share but if you share the pictures please credit me and link back to this post.
Impressions as a member of the “Press”:
To give you some context for what follows, my only reference point for comparison is the 2012 Democratic Party Convention. Until I arrived on the UH campus, the 2012 DNC was the only US political convention I had attended in person. It will surprise no one that the Greens’ convention was much smaller: Fewer people, smaller venue, much less media attention, etc. These are not necessarily negative observations however because they made for a more friendly and unpretentious atmosphere. While the ’12 DNC was slick, loud, and highly orchestrated, the ’16 Green Convention was low key and relatively amateur. Here are the things that stood out to me as a member of the media covering both events: At the DNC the entire venue was blocked off and access was very controlled. I had to go through multiple security checkpoints, including metal detectors and sniffer dogs, just to get in the venue. Inside the venue the various areas were only accessible with the correct credentials and access was restricted in various ways, even if you had the credentials to be there. For example, I had media credentials to the convention floor but I could only walk in and out at specific times and at one point was not allowed in at all. The credentials themselves were textured plastic and incorporated several security features to deter counterfeiting (like textured surfaces and bar codes).
In very stark contrast, the Green convention was in the student center at UH. The building was open to anyone and I saw no restrictions to access any of the rooms (with the exception of the one room reserved for press conferences). The credentials consisted of a clear plastic name-tag holder with glued-on ribbon reading “Press” and a shoelace lanyard. Despite registering ahead of time, when I arrived to check in the volunteer wrote my details on a bit of card and put the card in the holder. It was something one of my kids could have done.
Attendees were, as far as I could tell, mostly older (over 30) and predominantly white. There was a subset that was a diverse mix of ages and backgrounds and many of these appeared to be migrating Bernie Sanders supporters. I spoke to a few of them, including YahNe Ndgo, and they seemed disappointed enough with the Dems to be now pinning their hope on the Greens. A decent summary of this phenomenon is offered by Christopher Hooks on Politico’s website: What If the Green Party Stopped Being Kooky and Started Getting Real? (note: I don’t know Hooks and have no affiliation with Politico or the Texas Observer).
Speeches were well attended and the crowd was enthusiastic. The best speech was Cornel West’s keynote (that is not him in the picture, obviously). As our 4 hours of live radio thundered along, we were plagued with all sorts of issues that made getting the broadcast on the air on ongoing challenge. Otis Maclay (pictured below) and Bobby Modad performed several technical contortions in a constant struggle against fluctuating audio quality from the convention floor, distracting background noise in the room, and impromptu visits and comments from passers by.
Despite the many challenges and variable sound quality, I am happy to have witnessed and covered this convention. If you want to hear what it all sounded like you can check out the archive on audioport where you will hear the many voices besides mine, including David Cobb, Ann Garrison, Greg Palast, Kat Gruene, Staci Davis, Scooter, YahNe Ndgo, Cornell West, Howie Hawkins, Bruce Dixon, Ajamu Baraka, and Jill Stein.