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Indymedia Rustbelt Radio for February 14, 2005
by Pittsburgh IMC Radio Collective Monday, Feb. 14, 2005 at 4:51 PM

55 minutes: On today's show... activists announce Mountain Justice Summer to fight mountain range removal across Appalachia, a report from Philadelphia at a rally in support of death row prisonor Mumia Abu-Jamal, and sounds from the National Conference on Organized Resistance in DC last weekend.

audio link: MP3 at 21.7 mebibytes

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February 14, 2005: Rustbelt Radio, from Pittsburgh Indymedia

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


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. The show airs every Monday from 6-7pm here at the WRCT 88.3FM in Pittsburgh, PA. Rustbelt is also being aired this year by WVJW Benwood, on 94.1 FM in the Wheeling, West Virginia area. And we're also available on the internet, both on W-R-C-T's live webstream at W-R-C-T dot ORG and archived at radio dot I-N-D-Y-P-G-H dot org.

On today's show...

But first, these headlines:


Local News

Cyril Wecht Investigated for Improper Payments (1:30)

In a possible twist on a long-standing rivalry, Allegheny County DA Stephen Zappala has initiated a criminal investigation of county Coroner Cyril Wecht. Zappala alleges that Wecht may have violated State and Federal laws by improperly accepting a payment for his assistance in a civil case.

Wecht was paid $5,000 for a technical report that was part of a federal lawsuit against the Mt. Oliver Police Department in the matter of the death of Charles Dixon. Wecht had recommended that criminal charges be pursued against the Police Department but Zappala has not followed through. He denies that the payment was improper. Officials are often paid for their time when they provide expert testimony in a trial.

Dixon's case became the center of storm of accusations against the DA's office and the Mount Oliver police. Dixon was asphyxiated by Mt Oliver and Pittsburgh Police in late December of 2002 at a friend's birthday party held at the firehall in Mt Oliver. Witnesses testified that they heard Dixon say "Get off me, I can't breathe!" as 10 police officers had piled on top of him. Zappala has been heavily criticized for not pursuing charges in the case. Although the Mt Oliver Police department paid Dixon's family $850,000 to settle a federal suit, all of the officers involved remain free.

Zappala and Wecht have long been at odds. In multiple recent police-brutality or abuse related cases, Wecht has recommended that charges be pursued while Zappala has stalled them again and again. Most recently, Wecht had recommended that charges be pursued against the officers involved in the shooting death of Bernard Rogers, calling the use of force completely unnecessary. He later backed down from from that claim and said that Zappala should merely "investigate further." Zappala has not done anything to pursue the case.

Transit Advocates in Harrisburg again (3:00)

This morning at 6:30AM several bus loads of Port Authority riders left from Freedom Corner in the Hill District and set off for the State Capitol in Harrisburg to press one more time for dedicated and reliable funding for public transit throughout Pennsylvania. In Harrisburg they were joined by thousands of fellow riders from across the state.

For many Save Our Transit members, this rally will mark their seventh trip to the State Capitol in three years. After the state General Assembly adjourned its last session early and ignored public transit needs, many disgusted Save Our Transit members said that they would never set foot in Harrisburg again. News of a massive state wide rally planned for Valentines Day changed their mind.

We spoke with Rustbelt Radio correspondent David Meieran by phone from the rally in Harrisburg, earlier this afternoon.

Save Our Transit activist Steve Donahue organized the Pittsburgh contingent in Harrisburg. We spoke with Steve about how the rally went and the next steps for Save Our Transit.

Hatsfield Ferry Power Plant Arrestees go to court (2:30)

The six Greenpeace activists who scaled the smokestack at a power plant in Greene County, Pennsylvania last year will be in court this Tuesday. All six protestors have decided not to contest the misdemeanor charges filed against them, after negotiating an agreement with the power company to drop all felony charges.

In June of last year, the six protestors climbed up the 700 foot smokestack at the Hatsfield Ferry Power Station in Masontown, Pennsylvania, about 50 miles south of Pittsburgh. They then unfurled a 2,500 square foot banner that read (quote) "THE BUSH ENERGY PLAN KILLS – CLEAN ENERGY NOW!"

When they climbed down from the smokestack, they were arrested and charged with an array of State and Federal felonies, as well as four state misdemeanors.

The felony charges included multiple counts of burglary, criminal trespass and riot at the state level. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, they also faced a possible 25 years in prison and a $100,000 fine for charges related to criminal conspiracy, damaging or attempting to damage the property of an energy facility and causing or attempting to cause a significant interruption or impairment of a function of an energy facility. The Department of Homeland Security was also allegedly pursuing an investigation of the six.

All of those felony charges have been dropped and only the misdemeanor charges remain.

According to Greenpeace, the Bush administration has systematically weakened clean air laws by allowing power stations to install new equipment without adding pollution controls, and permitting coal-fired power plants to continue to release tons of mercury into the air and waterways. In addition to its negative impacts on health, dirty energy wreaks havoc on the environment, causing global warming, acid rain, and smog, Greenpeace added.

The Hatsfield Ferry Power Station in Masontown was under investigation by the Justice Department for violating the Clean Air Act – an investigation that was dropped by the Bush administration.

CMU Gladiator Robot Contract (2:30)

Last week Carnegie Mellon University and United Defense Industries, Inc. were awarded a 26.4 million dollar contract from the U.S. Department of Defense to build Gladiator Robots for the U.S. Marine Corps. The Gladiator is a 4 foot tall "tactical unmanned ground vehicle" that is operated by remote control.

Donald Smith, the director of economic development for Carnegie Mellon and the University of Pittsburgh said (quote) "The United States Congress mandated that one third of all military vehicles be unmanned by 2015. We are pleased that the first major step in responding to this challenge is based on Carnegie Mellon's technology and will be manufactured in western Pennsylvania."

Opponents of CMU's military contracting have called Gladitator a robotank, pointing to the powerful guns mounted on Gladiator. Yet in 2002 CMU President Jared Cohon told the Tartan, CMU's student newspaper, (quote) “We don’t know how to build tanks -- we don’t build weapons systems."

The Gladiators will be manufactured at the United Defense Industries plant in Fayette County. United Defense also built the Bradley tank and other combat vehicles, and is owned by the Carlisle Group, an investment group with deep ties to domestic and international governments. Its investors and advisers include former U.S. President George Bush, former British Prime Minister John Major and former Secretary of State James Baker, and many former members of the US military.


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

[ Musical Break ]

Global News


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. We turn now to headlines from Independent Media Centers around the world.

Workers in California Struggle to Save Lunchbreaks (4:00)

Unions in California are battling against Governor Schwarzenegger to preserve labor rights once taken for granted. On December 10th, Schwarzenegger declared a state of emergency and announced that he was going to take away California workers' lunch breaks. He was forced to rescind the "emergency" status of his rule changes, but he is still attacking the guaranteed right to a lunch break for California workers.

Unions rallied in San Francisco last week against the changes, and the Bay Area Indymedia Center was there.

[ lunch_excerpt.ogg: sf bay lunch break rally excerpt 2:53 ]

The rule changes announced by Governor Schwarzenegger would weaken workers' rights to breaks and meal periods and would shorten the amount of time that employers can be held liable for refusing to provide them. Companies like Wal-Mart that are being sued for cheating their workers out of lunch breaks could be off the hook if Governor Schwarzenegger’s changes go into effect.

Terminator seeds in Canada (1:30)

A confidential document leaked last week to the environmental organization, ETC Group, reveals that the Canadian government will attempt to overturn an international moratorium on genetic seed sterilisation technology, known universally as Terminator seeds at a United Nations meeting in Bangkok.

Terminator seed technology was first developed by the US government and the seed industry to prevent farmers from re-planting saved seed. It is considered one of the most controversial agricultural applications of genetic engineering yet. When first made public in 1998, so-called "suicide seeds" triggered an avalanche of public opposition, prompting the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) to impose a de facto moratorium on its further development.

Canada will also attack an official UN report, prepared by an international expert group, which is critical of the potential impacts of Terminator seeds on small farmers and Indigenous Peoples. In stark contrast to Canada's position, the expert report recommends that governments seek prohibitions on the technology.

NY Iraqi–American Convicted (1:45)

In upstate New York, a jury has convicted a prominent Iraqi-born oncologist of fraud and money laundering. From Free Speech Radio News, Catherine Komp reports.

Lynn Stewart convicted- needs help (1:30)

Last Thursday, civil rights attorney Lynn Stewart was convicted on 5 counts of conspiring to aid terrorists and lying to the government. Stewart was the defense attorney for Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman, who is imprisioned for terror-related activities, including the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.

The case raised issues of abuse of civil liberties under the guise of preventing terrorism and important legal questions regarding attorney-client privileges. Stewart allegedly communicated instructions from her client, although Stewart was under an order not to aid her client in communicating to the outside world.

Under a new set of regulations called Special Administrative Measures (SAM), some incarcerated persons are forbidden from communicating not only with the outside world, but also with their lawyers on any topic that DOJ deems to be outside the scope of "legal representation."

SAMs are relatively new, first being used in 1996 and their constitutionality has not yet been tested.

The evidence against Stewart included a video recording of Osama bin Laden urging support for Abdel-Rahman.

Subway strike in Argentina (1:00)

Subway workers in Buenos Aires, Argentina went on strike last week after months of negotiations with the private company that runs the city's transit system. The workers have been demanding pay increases of 53% and better working conditions. After months of waiting for the company executives to meet their demands, the workers decided to go on strike All five subway lines in the Argentine city of 14 million people were shut down.

The subway management company tried to restart services without their workers but were unable to since strikers had occupied the subway tunnels. The workers blocked all subway stops throughout the city. Many were on guard for 24 hour shifts at time, others had their whole families with them and slept on the concrete floors.

After five days of strikes, the workers accepted an offer from the company for a pay increase of 44%, a major victory against the company.

State Repression and Indigenous Resistance in Oaxaca (2:00)

In the state of Oaxaca in Mexico, three members of a state-wide alliance called COMPA, the Oaxacan Anti-Neoliberal Popular Magonista Coordination, have been arrested as part of an escalating campaign of repression and human rights abuses by the PRI state government against an increasingly mobilized indigenous population.

International human rights activists are calling these arrests politically motivated as a result of the detainees involvement in social movements in Oaxaca, in particular the current sit-in at the Zocalo in Mexico City. Instead of solving the root causes of social unrest in Oaxaca, they say the new governor, Ulises Ruiz Ortiz, chooses to violently repress social organizations in order to silence them.

Repressive violence also struck Acapulco, Mexico when an attack last week by gunmen left four dead before state elections there. The party which had ruled Mexico for 76 years until the 1990's, the PRI, was accused of using violence to intimidate voters. Their leftist opposition, the Democratic Revolution Party, went on to sweep several state elections last week including Guerrero, where the city of Acapulco is located.

AFTA Protests across Colombia (2:30)

Last week, trade negotiators from the United States met with representatives from the Governments of Colombia, Ecuador and Peru to discuss a possible free trade deal. This deal has been called "AFTA" for Andean Free Trade Agreement.

Colombia's leading trade unions called for a nationwide protest of the free trade negotiations on Thursday Februrary 10th. They said a deal would be a disaster for farmers and workers in industries such as textiles.

In the city of Cartagena, twenty thousand members of union, social, civic, ethnic, student and cultural organizations, took over the main road of the city in the middle of strong military and police control and despite the mayor's attempt to ban the demonstration. Protestors also marched in the city of Cali. In the capital, Bogota, thirty thousand people marched including native americans and farmers. Protestors denounced both the free trade agreement and the President of Colombia, Alvaro Uribe.

The trade negotiations failed as the United States refused to eliminate massive subsidies to US agribusiness firms or back down on strict intellectual property laws to protect the profits of pharmaceutical corporations. Trade representatives will attempt another round of negotiations in Lima, Peru later this year.

FCC and LPFM (1:30) (This clip isn't great -- could cut for time if needed)

Five years ago, the Federal Communications Commission or FCC announced it would being licensing Low Power FM radio stations (or LPFM stations). Last week the FCC invited those new stations to the capitol. Selina Musuta of the DC radio co-op has more:


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 ]

Bad Cop No Donut (1:30)

It's time for our weekly police abuse update from the show Bad Cop, No Donut. From CKLN Toronto, here's Ron Anicich (an IH sich).

[ waterford-cop-withintro.ogg: waterford cops with intro - 0:58 ]



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.

Mountain Top Removal (11:00)

Grassroots groups all across the appalachians are joining together to fight mountain top removal. Rust Belt Radio reports from Asheville North Carolina with an interview with Neal Ritchie of Katuah Earth First and xxxx (the person who gwen interviewed)

The grassroots mobilization around Mountain Top removal is getting organized and hosting Mountain Justice Summer. We now will turn to Neal Ritchie for him to explain the campaign.

Pittsburgh will also be part of Mountain Justice Summer campaigns as the National Coal Company will be hosting meetings here on June 6th and 7th.

[ Musical Break ]

Mumia rally in Philadelphia (4:30)

[ clip introduces itself: mumiagood.ogg: mumia report by etta 4:20 ]

That was Ramona Africa. To find out more information on the status of Mumia's Case check out WWW.Mumia.Org.

NCOR (4:00)

Last weekend the National Conference of Organized Resistance took place at American University. One of the presenters was Bernadine Dorhn, director of the Children and Family Justice Center at the Legal Clinic at Northwestern Univerisity's School of Law, Chicago, and former Weather Underground Member. She spoke both on the World Social Forum which took place in Porto Alegre, Brazil and also about U.S. imperialism and our relationship to the citizens of the world. We will now hear excerpts of her speech.

(bernadine dohrn 5:35)

(bernadine dohrn 3:23) <-- Use this one


Calendar of events


Thanks for tuning in to Rust Belt Radio here on WRCT Pittsburgh and WVJW Benwood.

Our hosts this week are [ Etta Cettera ] and [ Matt Toups ] with contributions from [ Abie Flaxman , David Meieran, Gwen Schmidt, and Matt Toups ]. This week's show was produced by [ Quinten Steenhuis ]. Special thanks to all of our hosts, producers, and contributors.

Your audio submissions are welcome! To get involved with Rust Belt Radio, or to send us your comments, email RADIO at I-N-D-Y-P-G-H dot ORG. All of our shows are available for download on our website at RADIO dot INDY-P-G-H dot ORG

Tune in next week at this time for another edition of Rust Belt Radio, the Pittsburgh Independent Media Center's weekly review of the news from the grassroots that the corporate media overlook.

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by Pittsburgh IMC Radio Collective Monday, Feb. 14, 2005 at 4:51 PM

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