Image from Zoom

David Swanson, Mark Stansbery and Morgan Harper

Mark Stansbery, Free Press Board member, started off the salon by introducing Travis Irvine.

Travis told us about the rally to support SB117 and HB351 and repeal the coal plant bailouts on December 9 and announced the showing of his new film Killer Racoons 2: Dark Christmas in the Dark. It will play at Studio 35 at 11pm on December 17 and 22, and is streaming online. He also mentioned another more serious film of his called How America Killed My Mother that is also streaming online.

Cathy Cowan Becker, Simply Living Executive Director, spoke next about the Columbus Climate Action Plan that officially released December 10. It is the third iteration of the plan, made exponentially better by citizen demands by people like Cathy and groups like Simply Living, Columbus Stand Up!, Sunrise and Green Columbus. The Climate Action Plan commits to a 45% reduction in emissions by tree canopy goals, corporations collaborating in energy aggregation and more. Mark mentioned that at the City Parks and Rec department where he works they are moving to electric vehicles.

Sharon Abreu mentioned the Climate Rail Alliance and the ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability. Joe Motil asked about tax credits for residential solar and Cathy responded that she had not heard of tax breaks for residential solar on the city level, but that there's a federal tax break of 26% through next year, and then it will start gradually declining. The city has run a solar coop that pools people together to get bulk purchase rates on solar installations. Usually that saves people 10-15%. So if you go through a solar coop and get the federal tax break, that's a pretty good deal on solar.

Next, Mark introduced Nazek Hapasha from the League of Women Voters to talk about redistricting in Ohio and other election issues. She reported that there are three lawsuits being heard in the Ohio Supreme Court, one from the League along with the ACLU and other groups. The reason there is a lawsuit is that there was no consensus with the Ohio Redisctricting Commission as the two Democrats voted against the new maps. Only a four-year map instead of a 10-year map was approved, and it has been widely criticized as being gerrymandered for the Republicans.

Election issues we should be aware of next year include two bills in the Ohio state legislature – HB 294 and HB 387. HB 294 limits access to ballot drop boxes, changess voter ID requirements, and shortens the time to request absentee ballots. Take action here. HB 387 is a horrible Texas-like voting bill that eliminate ballot drop boxes, shortens early voting, requires an excuse to fill out an absentee ballot, bans mailing absentee ballots to all registered voters, and requires a photo ID for all modalities of voting and a photo ID just to register to vote.  

Mark reminded us that December 10 was the day of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The next speaker was David Swanson of World Beyond War – the group that just won the US Peace Prize. His talk was titled: "What Would Have Been Better Than a Democracy Summit and Why There Should Not Be Any More Pearl Harbor Days" and sparked a lot of dialogue with the group. David told us that the groups chosen to participate in the December 9-10 Biden Democracy Summit are merely those that the US wants to sell weapons to, not those that need any help with democracy. The event was a game of weapons sales around the world.

He said the Biden quote: “Democracy doesn’t happen by accident. We have to defend it, fight for it, strengthen it, renew it,” was the theme.

In fact, the Summit didn’t even use democratic processes during their proceedings. David said the Occupy movement around the country were more democratic than the Summit. He pointed out that the US should look at its own democracy as the top incarcerator in the world, the top in vetoing actions by the United Nations, top in funding dictators and of course, the US is top in weapons sales.

David also reiterated how the whole Pearl Harbor event was pre-planned and pre-arranged before the bombing actually happened. In fact, a newspaper article was ready to go with headlines about the attack before the bombing actually happened. He wants our nation to stop commemorating Pearl Harbor Day. Free Press Board President Pete Johnson told us about a recent book on Pearl Harbor, based on relatively recent document release. 

When Mark asked David if he had hope, David said no, but said we all still need to work to lessen the damage of what’s going on in the world, push a positive vision of a better world, and remember that working for peace is an enjoyable way to spend your time.

He told us the military budget was terribly inflated when Biden became president, but Biden and the current Congress has added even more into the budget. So many of our country’s and the world’s problems could easily be dealt with if that money was spent on other issues. Pat Marida noted that $6 billion for nuclear power subsidies and tax credits passed in the Biden Infrastructure Bill. The military budget that just passed was $768 billion, which is $24 billion higher than Biden asked. There is $28 billion in it for nuclear weapons. Sharon also noted that $38 billion for climate is in the infrastructure bill and $778 billion for the U.S. military, one of the largest emitters of CO2.

On the voting issue, David pointed out that everyone turning 18 is automatically put into a military draft database, but somehow the officials claim it is too difficult to automatically register everyone to vote when they turn 18.

David Swanson is also with Roots Action and his show Talk Nation plays on WGRN 94.1 on Tuesday mornings at 7:30am.

US Senate candidate in Ohio, Morgan Harper, joined the conversation from her travels campaigning around the state. Her campaign theme is “No more of the same old thing.” She talked about what she is hearing from the voters. She finds that people don’t want to vote for just anyone on the ballot – they want to really believe in their candidate. David offered a 15-20 page primer on US foreign policy for US congressional candidates for her platform.

Morgan talked a little about the recent settlement by the City of Columbus with protestors who sued over being hurt and harassed by police during the Black Lives Matter rallies of last summer. The City also banned pepper spray, mace, and wooden bullets for use by Columbus Police.

Talk turned to the Build Back Better project. Though it has benefits, it also offers false solutions to climate change including:

            •           Biofuels,

            •           Carbon Capture and Storage

            •           Hydrogen power

            •           Waste-to-energy i.e., incineration

            •           Landfill gas

Pat Marida spoke about Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), Chair of the Senate Finance Committee, who is the featured speaker on a panel about the BBB Act. Registration gives the opportunity to type in a question. Ask him if he will speak up to take out over $35 billion in nuclear production tax credit subsidies for aging, dangerous and uneconomical nuclear power in the BBB.  Register here.

She also warned about Ohio HB 434. To “Enact the Advanced Nuclear Technology Helping Energize Mankind (ANTHEM) Act by establishing the Ohio Nuclear Development Authority.” The proposed Nuclear Development Authority would authorize spending for research & development of new nuclear reactors. It is tied to thorium and molten salt reactors. Has little to no financial analysis. Nothing that limits their spending.  Includes taking nuclear waste from Davis-Besse and Perry. It also includes reprocessing of the waste and eminent domain. Ohio would be responsible for all costs associated with the NDA, including reactor decommissioning, dismantling and disposal of waste and damages resulting from spills and accidents. Could bankrupt Ohio. Now it is being heard in the House Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

Mark announced that January 22 is the anniversary of Roe V Wade but also the anniversary of nuclear weapons being banned in 2021. There may be a local action around this.

Link to salon video.

The next Free Press Cyber-Salon is January 8.

Hope to see you at the next one!

Pete Johnson
President, Columbus Institute for Contemporary Journalism
Contact: 614-253-2571