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Free Press readers gathered Saturday evening, March 9 for a Cyber-Salon.

Link to salon video.

Mark Stansbery, Free Press Board member, started out the salon by introducing the Board President, Pete Johnson.

Pete introduced the primary speaker, Ramzy Baroud, a US-Palestinian journalist, media consultant, an author, internationally-syndicated columnist, Editor of Palestine Chronicle (1999-present), former Managing Editor of London-based Middle East Eye, former Editor-in-Chief of The Brunei Times and former Deputy Managing Editor of Al Jazeera online. Baroud is the author of six books and a contributor to many others; his latest volume is Our Vision for Liberation: Engaged Palestinian Leaders and Intellectuals Speak Out. His books are translated to many languages including French, Turkish, Arabic, Korean, Malayalam, among others. The Free Press has been running Ramzy’s articles for a decade.

Ramzy related to the group how he grew up in Gaza and now lives in Turkey. He has lost many family members since October 7 and has been unable to enter Gaza and help his sister and other relatives to escape the violence and suffering.

He reiterated the long history of oppression in Gaza and the West Bank by Israel. His stories about the current conditions were tragic and horrible.

Another speaker was Zerqa Abid, currently running for the 15th district US Congress. Zerqa Abid is a small business owner, an award-winning non-profit leader, and an internationally recognized women’s rights advocate. An Ohioan by choice, Zerqa and her husband started several successful small businesses before Zerqa repurposed her life to protect and empower Ohio youths and families against human trafficking, drugs and gangs/gun violence. In 2014, Zerqa founded her non-profit in her kitchen, grew its staff to over 50, and today has served nearly 250,000 Ohioans and has received national awards from organizations like the AARP. Zerqa is running for Congress to put a real public servant, not another career politician, in charge.

Zerqa has spoken out about the need for a ceasefire in Gaza and the West Bank and suddenly the Democratic Party put up an opponent for her in the March 19 primary, and endorsed him immediately.

Zerqa is having a VOTE for PEACE, JUSTICE, LOVE & CEASEFIRE event at the Franklin County Board of Elections on March 15 from 3-8pm.

Pat Marida talked about the Radiation Exposure and Compensation Act. RECA has been compensating people who live outside of certain US nuclear sites for illnesses known to be caused by radioactivity.  RECA was not renewed and is due to expire in June.  A new bill that would renew and expand RECA has passed the US senate due to activism by grassroots folks like us.  Please CONTACT YOUR US REPRESENTATIVE and ask them to renew the RECA bill that has passed the senate. Tell them that at some point we want to add the Portsmouth Nuclear Site at Piketon, OH (PORTS), to the list of nearby residents to be compensated.  Here are Pat’s latest slides of ongoing activities at PORTS. Here is the language of the senate RECA bill, SB 3853

Sandy Bolzenius is starting up a local Veterans for Peace organization and encourages Central Ohio veterans to email us directly so that we can get them on our local list. (  As far as Veterans for Peace, here is that website:

Veterans for Peace petition for Julian Assange today:

Move to Amend is also seeking volunteers for our Comfest booth. Please contact Sandy at

Mary Jane Borden mentioned that in Biden’s State of the Union speech he said that marijuana should be changed from a Schedule 1 to a Schedule 3 drug which would be great.

The April salon is Saturday, April 13, 5:30 – 9:00pm and it will be a special in-person salon celebrating the Earth Day Birthday of community radio WGRN 91.9FM with a awards event with nationally-renowned political satire folksinger Tom Neilson. We will honor our Producer of the Year: Felice Thomas.  Producer of the program "The Cell" that covers health issues sponsored by the Faith Thomas Foundation, an organization founded after the death of Felice's daughter of sickle cell anemia and Volunteer of the Year: Joe Keehner, longtime environmental activist, and Board member of the Central Ohio Green Education Fund, that manages WGRN. There will be light refreshments. This event is free.  Location:  First Unitarian Universalist of Columbus, 93 W Weisheimer Rd, Columbus 43214.  Parking is available at the west side of the building.  Facebook Event