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Indymedia Rustbelt Radio show for Monday, January 24, 2005
by Pittsburgh IMC Radio Collective Monday, Jan. 24, 2005 at 8:16 PM

Rustbelt Radio for the week of January 24, 2005: the Pittsburgh Independent Media Center's weekly review of the news from the grassroots that the corporate media overlook. This first show of our season marks our first as a weekly show. We also are happy to announce that we are expanding to the Wheeling, West Virginia area via WVJW Benwood where we'll be broadcast every Saturday at 5pm. On today's show: we speak to Pittsburgh residents as they convert a diesel-powered vehicle to run on vegetable oil, news from the second inauguration of George W. Bush, and coverage of the Martin Luther King, Jr holiday in Pittsburgh.

audio link: MP3 at 24.6 mebibytes

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Airs at 6pm on WRCT Pittsburgh, 88.3FM, and webcast.

Intro (1:30)

Welcome to this week's edition of Rustbelt Radio, the Pittsburgh Independent Media Center's weekly review of the news from the grassroots that the corporate media overlook. This season marks our first as a weekly show. We also are happy to announce that we are expanding to the Wheeling, West Virginia area via W-V-J-W Benwood where we'll be broadcast every Saturday at 5pm. And we're also available over the Internet to the rest of the world via W-R-C-T's live webstream W-R-C-T dot org, and archives are online at radio dot I-N-D-Y-P-G-H dot org.

WRCT is also home to other great public affairs programming. Every weekday morning at 8AM we have Democracy Now!, the live daily independent international news program hosted by Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez. And every weekday at 6pm we have local Public Affiars programs; on Tuesdays, political talk with "Left Out" and "On the Right" alternating; on Wednesdays, technology news and discussion with "Total Information Awareness"; on Thursdays, we have the "Latin America Radio Hour" in Spanish and English and on Fridays we have the Brasil Radio hour, in Portuguese and English. We're sorry to annouce that our friends at the "Fightin' Lefty Review" will be taking a radio sabbatacal for the spring semester.

On today's show:

But first, these headlines.


Local News

Public Transit Still in Jeopardy (4:00)

Last December, the Port Authority board settled on a two-phase proposal to address a $75 million dollar deficit that will ultimately raise fares to $2.50, cut service for dozens of routes, limit night-time and weekend service, and lay-off 500 employees "on or around" July 1, 2005. On January 4th, sixteen Allegheny County public transit riders and advocates paid a visit to the Pennsylvania State Legislature in Harrisburg to demand they fund public transit before fare hikes and service cuts go into effect. Meanwhile legislators were more interested in holding a party for themselves to celebrate their new session. From the state capitol building, Rust Belt Radio recorded the visit.

[ Audio Clip - David's video sequence edited by Matt harrisburg-edit-3m.ogg: harrisburg edit (three minutes) ]

Transit activists from across the state aren't giving up and are planning to return to Harrisburg for a rally on February 14th. The Thomas Merton Center is organizing a bus. To reserve a seat on the bus at no charge, the Merton Center can be reached at 412-361-3022.

Community Support for Centre City Tower Janitors continues to grow (3:00 or 2:00)

For the past few months, Rust Belt radio has reported on the ongoing efforts of the Thomas Merton Center to bring justice for the janitors who were fired by Centre City Tower 13 months ago. Faced with having to pay the janitors a decent wage and provide healthcare benefits, Centre City Tower dropped the unionized janitor contractor and hired non-union workers. Recently the Merton Center has called for a boycott of Sky Bank, whom they regard as complicit in the injustice. In addition to being one of its largest tenants, Sky Bank holds the mortgage of Centre City Tower and loaned the owner of the new janitorial contractor money at the same time that the contractor was hired to replace the unionized workers.

On Saturday, December 30th, the one year anniversary of the janitors being fired, 125 people turned out for a protest and vigil to support the janitors at Centre City Tower and to demand that Sky Bank take action to have their jobs reinstated.

For more information about the Merton Center's campaign to bring justice for the janitors, visit This Friday, activists plan to picket the Sky Bank branch in Lawrenceville.

Father of man killed by Brownsville police sues officers (0:45)

The father of a man killed by police in Brownsville, Pennsylvania last May filed a 100 million dollar civil lawsuit earlier this month. Brownsville PA is located about 40 miles South of Pittsburgh in Fayette County near Uniontown. Ron Anicich from CKLN Toronto has more.

[ BCND clip brownsville_cops.ogg: lawsuit against brownsville PA killer cop 0:30]

Thanks to Ron Anicich at CKLN 88.1 FM in Toronto for that report. Every week his show "Bad Cop No Donut" reports on police brutality, misconduct and corruption in North America.

Black Voices for Peace Anti-war rally (3:15)

On Saturday, January 15, 2005, Black Voices for Peace, an African American anti-war organization, and the Black Radical Congress (BRC), a progressive Black activist organization, held a special anti-war protest to expose the negative effects of the War against Iraq on the African American community. The protest, which commemorated Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., featured a range of speakers including local African American leaders and members of the Pittsburgh peace community.

Black Voices for Peace holds a weekly anti-war vigil at the corner of Penn and Highland in East Liberty, every Saturday at 2:00 PM.

Steelers Fans against the War rally (3:30)

A group calling itself "Steelers Fans Against War" brought a light-hearted yet serious anti-war message to the NFL playoff game in Pittsburgh against the New York Jets. The group marched in Black and Gold with "war is terrible towels," a marching band, and creative football anti-war chants.

From Pittsburgh's Northside at Heinz Field, Rust Belt Radio has more.

Annual anti-war speak out at Carnegie Mellon (1:30)

Also on Martin Luther King Day, a small group of activists gathered outside Carnegie Mellon's Warner Hall to protest military contracting at CMU. Vincent Eirene addressed the crowd.

Thanks to Blast Furnace Radio for that excerpt.

Charles Graner Sentenced to 10 years (1:00)

Army Reserve Specialist Charles Graner was sentenced earlier this month to 10 years in a military prison for his role in the abuse and torture of Iraqi prisoners at Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison.

Graner still served as a prison guard at the Pennsylvania Corrections facility SCI Greene in Waynesburg, South of Pittsburgh, when he was called to active duty in Iraq. SCI Greene houses death-row prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal and was the center of its own storm of abuse allegations since it opened more than a decade ago. Six years ago several staff were fired amid evidence that guards routinely beat and abused prisoners. The organization Pennsylvania Abolitionists United Against the Death Penalty has followed the conditions at SCI Greene, reporting several instances of prisoner abuse since 1998, including incidents in 2004.


For more on all of our local news stories, visit pittsburgh dot I-N-D-Y-MEDIA dot O-R-G. We're going to take a short break and then return with global news headlines.

Global News


You are listening to Rustbelt Radio, the Pittsburgh Independent Media Center's bi-weekly review of the news that the corporate media overlook. We turn now to headlines from Independent Media Centers around the world.

January 20th Bush Inauguration (7:30)

Amid an historic debate about the legitimacy of the November elections, the inauguration of George W. Bush to his second term of President of the United States took place last Thursday, January 20th. Rust Belt radio brings you the following report from DC.

[ david's report from DC : j20.mp3 or j20.ogg ]

Washington DC was not the only setting for protests on inauguration day. In Austin, Texas, 1,000 gathered outside the State Capitol before marching down Congress Avenue. In Los Angeles, 3,000 marched through the streets of Westwood Village. In New Orleans, over a thousand turned out for "jazz funeral for democracy." In San Francisco, activists staged a "mock inauguration" in front of the San Francisco Federal Building, held two rallies and marched in different parts of the city. Also in San Francisco, Veterans for Peace held an all-day vigil. For nearly ten hours, the names of Iraqis and US troops killed in the Iraq war and occupation were read aloud. All told, 26 cities held counter-inaugural events marking the greatest outpouring of dissent at a Presidential inauguration in U.S. history.

Supreme Court Refuses to Hear Gay Adoption Case (1:00)

The Supreme Court last week refused to hear a challenge to a Florida law that bans gays from adopting, meaning that the law will likely stay in place until state lawmakers repeal it. Florida is the only US state to have such a law.

A year ago, the Supreme Court ruled in Lawrence v. Texas that certain discrimination against homosexuals was illegal, but a 3-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit ruled last January that the Lawrence decision did not refute (quote) "the accumulated wisdom of several millennia of human experience" (end quote) and that the (quote) "optimal family structure" (end quote) in which to raise children was one with a mother and father married to each other.

Florida reviews all other requests for adoption on a case by case basis, including prospective parents who have failed at previous adoptions or have a history of abuse or neglect, according to the New York Times.

Michael Powell Resigns (1:00)

The other Powell has resigned from the Bush administration. Federal Communication Commission chairman Michael Powell announced earlier this week that he is resigning his post, adding his name to a long list of Bush appointees that have decided not to stay on for a second term with the Bush administration.

Supporters of Powell admired him for his embracing of new technologies, allowing new technologies like telephones that work over a high-speed Internet connection to continue unregulated. Yet his efforts to embrace big business by removing strict limits on media ownership, crack down on small unliccensed radio operators, and to increase censorship of the airwaves and accompanying penalties have made him an extremely controversial figure on both sides of the aisle in Congress and among the general public.

As chairman of the FCC in June of 2003, he tried to enact new rules that would have enabled corporate media outlets to consolidate more than ever before. After tremendous public outcry, on March 11th, Congress voted to overturn the FCC's proposed new media ownership regulations by an overwhelming majority.

A successor to Powell for the post of FCC Chairman has not yet been announced.

Food Health Bribery (2:30)

Monsanto, the world's largest producer of genetically engineered crops, was fined one point five million dollars earlier this month by the US government for bribing Indonesian officials to allow it to grow Bt cotton, a form of genetically modified cotton, without undergoing any environmental impact studies. As part of the penalty, Monsanto must also submit to a three year probation period of closer monitoring of its business practices.

Monsanto internal records show more than seven hundred thousand dollars of "questionable or illegal" payments from 1997-2001 to current and former Indonesian government officials and their family members. In 2002, Monsanto arranged a payment of fifty thousand dollars in cash to repeal a decision by the Indonesian Environmental Ministry that demanded an environmental impact statement before the genetically engineered crop could be planted.

Despite strong protests from farmers, Monsanto got approval to grow the Genetically Modified Bollgard Bt cotton in the South Sulawesi province. Forty tons of the Genetically Modified seeds were flown in to the province from South Africa under military protection. Only after 2 growing seasons, amid farmers' protests, burning fields and harvest failures - and the failed attempt to buy itself out of the environmental studies - did Monsanto pull out of Bt cotton growing in Indonesia.

The Bt cotton crop has been protested almost everywhere that Monsanto has tried to plant it. Because Monsanto owns a patent on the cotton's genes, farmers are banned from re-planting seeds and must pay hefty fees to Monsanto to continue to grow it, making it a lucrative crop for the corporation. If the genetically engineered crop mixes with native crops, Monsanto can even claim royalties from farmers who have become Monsanto's accidental customers.

Greenpeace criticized Monsanto over the most recent revelation, but said (quote) "Bribes, corruption and relatively insignificant fines are small change for Monsanto compared to the huge prize of monopoly position in countries with large agricultural sectors. And once GE crops are planted in a country, any contamination of non-GE crops means Monsanto can also claim royalties from these farmers as it has done in Canada."

Tsunami devastates migrant workers and villagers from Burma, and the situation in Aceh (1:30)

More than 3000 migrant workers from Burma have been killed in the South of Thailand following the tsunami. They have been denied access to government aid and have been unable to claim and bury their dead. The Thai government has also used the tsunami as an excuse to crack down and deport people back to Burma. In Arakan State, which is in the west of Burma, 96 people were killed and 788 displaced in 17 villages, but there has been no government assistance to those affected.

The worst tsunami damage was felt in Aceh, the province on the westernmost tip of the Indonesian island of Sumatra. Following the tsunami disaster, a teach-in on the situation in Aceh was held in New York featuring journalist Amy Goodman and activists from Aceh. The full recording of this teach-in is available from N-Y-C dot I-N-D-Y-media dot org.

Three main points were made:

First, a long-standing independence struggle by the Acehnese has led to a military invasion and "civil emergency" imposed by the Indonesian government. Up until the disaster struck, Indonesia had banned most journalists from Aceh. Indonesia is now relaxing that ban, but there are still few journalists present.

Second, because of the so-called civil emergency, there were no Western tourists in Aceh and, consequently, little interest by the Western media compared to their "own" people in other popular tourist locations.

Third, because of its corruption and its repressive attitude toward the Acehnese, the Indonesian government cannot be counted on to provide proper assistance. According to a report from one independent journalist in Banda Aceh, much aid is piling up unused at military bases and airports. He also reports that every night military forces are looting those homes still standing in Banda Aceh.

Roe v. Wade Anniversary (0:30)

32 years ago last weekend, the Supreme Court legalized abortion in the landmark decision Roe versus Wade. Yet the state of abortion rights in this country is far from assured.

Justice William Rehnquist had been on the court for a year when Roe v. Wade was decided, and was one of 2 lone dissenters in that case. He now is the chief justice and many experts predict that the Supreme Court is only one vote shy of overturning the protections of abortion that Roe v. Wade ushered in.


You can read more about our global news stories by visting I-N-D-Y-M-E-D-I-A dot O-R-G. We'll be back after a brief break.

[ Musical Break - Malvina Reynolds, Rosie Jane?]



That was .... Welcome back to Rust Belt Radio, the Pittsburgh Independent Media Center's bi-weekly review of the news that the corporate media overlook.

Pittsburgh residents convert their car to run on Vegetable Oil (11:00)

With the ever increasing economic, military, and environmental costs of gasoline, people are turning to a more sustainable fuel - vegetable oil. This is a growing movement of people who are either fed up with wars being fought over their gas tank, annoyed by toxic emissions or simply can not afford the rising gas prices. Any diesel engine can be made to run on biodiesel or straight vegetable oil with some minor conversions. On January 15th and 16th a group of Pittsburghers met at Red Star Ironworks to convert a Ford Ambulance to run on vegetable oil. We will talk with Babz De Azul about this conversion and also with Colin of Biofuel, a buffalo based veggie oil conversion business.

[ audio track - 10:00 ]

That was just music by Fear is the Mindkiller, the band who will be using the veggie oil ambulance for touring. For more information about veggie oil you can check out the book from the Fryer to the Fuel Tank and also go to the following websites . Biodiesel is also available for sale at Baum Boulevard Auto in North Oakland.

[ Musical Break ]

People Against Police Violence awards ceremony (6:00)

On Monday January 17, People Against Police Violence held their annual Martin Luther King, Jr tribute at the Monumental Baptist Church in the Hill District. The event featured guest speakers and the "Doers Not Dreamers" award ceremony. The keynote speaker was Dr. Carlos Brossard, whose speech was broadcast in full on WRCT last Tuesday. Doer Not Dreamer awards were presented to Sanjulo Ber, Nazura Aza Eshé, Marie Skoczylas, and David Meieran for their roles in activism within PAPV and the greater community. The following are exerpts from the speakers.

The full recordings can be found at

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by Pittsburgh IMC Radio Collective Monday, Jan. 24, 2005 at 8:16 PM

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