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Rustbelt Radio for July 3, 2006
by Indymedia Rustbelt Radio collective Monday, Jul. 03, 2006 at 10:33 PM (email address validated) 412-923-3000 WRCT 88.3FM

This week we have a special bike theme show for Bike Fest, including stories... * about the Major Taylor Cycling Club and the Underground Railroad Cycling Route * Testimonies from cyclists injured in accidents, * An update from Bike Pittsburgh about Cycling Improvements in Pittsburgh * Paul Simpson speaking about bicycles as they relate to social equality * plus local and global headlines

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Rustbelt Radio for July 3, 2006


Welcome to this week's edition of Rustbelt Radio, the Pittsburgh Independent Media Center's weekly review of the news from the grassroots and news overlooked by the corporate media.

Today we have a special bike themed show including stories

Rustbelt Radio airs live every Monday from 6-7pm and again Tuesday mornings at 9AM on WRCT 88.3FM in Pittsburgh, every Thursday from 11am to noon on WARC Meadville 90.3 FM from the campus of Allegheny College, every Saturday from 5-6pm on WVJW Benwood, 94.1 FM in the Wheeling, West Virginia area, and also every Saturday at 5pm on WPTS 92.1 FM from the campus of the University of Pittsburgh.

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 for download or podcast at radio dot I-N-D-Y-P-G-H dot org.

We now turn to local headlines from Pittsburgh Indymedia.


Local News

[1:00] Minimum wage increase passes

Legislation increasing Pennsylvania's minimum wage by $2 received final approval from state lawmakers Saturday in a 38 to 11 vote. Final approval will head to the desk of Gov. Ed Rendell, who has promised to sign it.

The bill calls for Pennsylvania's minimum wage to rise to $6.25 an hour on Jan. 1, 2007, then to $7.15 an hour on July 1, 2007. The increase will affect the 423,000 workers in Pennsylvania who make between $5.15 and $7.14 an hour. The wage changes will occur over the next two years.

The increase would take effect more slowly for employers with the equivalent of 10 or fewer full-time employees, although franchises of larger chains would not qualify for that exemption. Those employers that do qualify would pay $5.65 an hour beginning Jan. 1, 2007; $6.65 beginning July 1, 2007; and $7.15 on July 1, 2008.

Rendell's signature would make Pennsylvania the 22nd state to approve an increase in its minimum wage since Congress last raised the federal minimum wage to $5.15 in 1997.

Rendell said in a statement released Saturday quote :"We should not accept the fact that in our great commonwealth, and in our country, someone can work full time and still live well below the poverty level."

[2:30] Mercury bill update

The Pennsylvania House left Harrisburg for its summer recess Sunday without voting on a bill that would have required the Pennsylvania DEP to abandon an ambitious plan to reduce mercury pollution, and instead follow the far weaker federal EPA mercury reduction plan.

Like lead, even small levels of mercury exposure can affect human health dramatically. Coal-fired power plants are responsible for at least 40 percent of the nation's mercury emissions, and Pennsylvania's power plants have the second highest mercury emissions in the country. This mercury accumulates in lakes and rivers, contaminating fish.

In the spring of last year, the Bush administration established a mercury reduction rule that declassifies mercury as a toxic pollutant and allows polluters to trade emissions credits, so that the oldest and dirtiest power plants in the country—many of which are located in Pennsylvania—could buy their way out of significant mercury emission reductions.

According to Nation Wilcox with PennEnvironment, (quote) Given the public health and environmental threats posed by mercury in Pennsylvania, we need the strongest possible rules to cut this pollution from our power plants—not the weakest. (endquote)

The Pennsylvania Department of Enviromental Protection has developed a state-level proposal that would require 90 percent mercury reductions from Pennsylvania’s coal-fired power plants by 2015, and not allow Pennsylvania’s plants to opt out of reducing their emissions by purchasing credits from plants in other states. The proposed rule has been applauded by environmental, sporting, and public health advocates.

Earlier this spring, however, Senate Bill 1201 and its companion bill in the House, were introduced to block the state-level proposal and force Pennsylvania to instead adopt the weaker federal regulations. After intensive lobbying by the utility and coal industries in favor of the legislation, the state Senate voted 40-10 in support of SB 1201, sending the legislation to the House for consideration.

The House of Representatives Republican leadership first referred the bill to the Rules Committee upon its arrival in the House, instead of the Environmental Resources and Energy Committee. This was seen by many as an attempt to bypass potential opposition to SB 1201 among members of the Environmental Resources & Energy Committee, even though that committee has been deliberating over the mercury issue for months whereas the Rules Committee had never dealt with the issue. After protests from environmental advocates and legislators alike, the bill was referred back to the Environmental Resources & Energy Committee.

The DEP’s proposed state-level mercury rule is now open for a 60 day public comment period—including three public hearings the last week in July—in which all Pennsylvanians have the opportunity to comment on the proposal.

[5:00] Justice Block Party Downtown

Smithfield Street was transformed on Friday from just another intersection of corporate buildings and office workers to a lively community street fair. Sponsored by The Thomas Merton Center, the SEIU and Labor Solidarity, the first annual Justice Block Party was held in front of Center City Towers. This location was chosen to protest management's firing of 9 janitors who unionized for healthcare and better wages in 2003. Now the janitors in the building have jobs that do not support families or the communities they live in.

During the event, many local organizations gathered to provide free information to the public, and create a space to unite and celebrate the struggles going on in the Pittsburgh region.

Rustbelt Radio spoke with several participants in the festival.

First we hear from Julia Carbott from Planned Parenthood of Western Pennsylvania.

Next Clark Claggitt speaks about his work with the Pittsburgh Anti Sweatshop Community Alliance:

We also spoke to Carol Weidman of the Thomas Merton Center, Code Pink, and the International Women’s League for Peace and Freedom:

In addition to other music and live entertainment, The Pittsburgh Radical Cheerleaders performed a cheer criticizing Sky Bank and Center City Tower’s treatment of the janitors:


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.

Global News


You are listening to Rustbelt Radio, the Pittsburgh Independent Media Center's weekly review of news overlooked by the corporate media. We turn now to headlines from Independent Media Sources around the world.

[1:00] MySpace Alters Agreements Following Bragg Protest

MySpace. com, a popular social networking website has recently altered its terms of agreement with artists, a move that follows a protest by musician Billy Bragg. The alterations, made rather quickly, clearly revert the ownership of intellectual property to uploading artists. The amended language now states [quote] " does not claim any ownership rights in the text, files, images, photos, video, sounds, musical works, works of authorship, or any other materials that you post to the MySpace Services."

Following the alterations, Bragg expressed his satisfaction, saying [quote] "I am very pleased to see that MySpace have changed their terms of agreement from a declaration of their rights into a declaration of our rights as artists, making it clear that, as creators, we retain ownership of our material." Earlier this month, Bragg removed his content, pointing to unfavorable language that may have given MySpace ownership rights. MySpace denied any such ambitions, and backed its response with the latest changes.

[3:00] USA to ratify Peruvian Free Trade Agreement

Last year, the United States implemented a new trade agreement in Central America called CAFTA. Now the US is hoping to expand Free Trade to South America, with the Peruvian Free Trade Agreement, or FTA.

Opposition from environmental groups in the United States say the agreement will threaten biodiversity by undermining the right of indigenous and local communities to share in the benefits derived from the biodiversity of the region. The agreement will also not protect the rights of indigenous communities to their traditional knowledge in areas such as medicines and seeds.

Another criticism of the Peru Free Trade agreement is that it will provide foreign investors even greater rights to challenge environmental laws than CAFTA. The U.S. - Peru FTA expands the right of investors to file suit against alleged breaches of natural resources contracts by broadly defining natural resources contracts to include every aspect of the extractive, productive and marketing processes. These new rights would enable multinational corporations to attack legitimate attempts by communities to protect their health and environment.

Other organizations such as Oxfam, state [quote] "Provisions in this trade agreement threaten the livelihood of small farmers in Peru and will put access to important life-saving drugs at affordable prices out of reach for the majority of Peruvians."

Peru's Congress approved the deal last week in a vote held during the middle of the night. Today Peruvian farmers began a strike in protest of the agreement. The US Congress is set to ratify the trade agreement with Peru by the end of July.

The US senate is also considering a free trade agreement with Oman, a nation on the Arabian Peninsula ruled by a heriditary sultan who rules with absolute political power. Oil represents about 90% of Oman's exports, and the US already enjoys access to military bases there. The US is also currently in free trade negotiations with the United Arab Emirates.

[1:00] Kerik guilty

Bernard B. Kerik, [care – rick] the former head of New York City's department of Corrections and former NYC Commissioner of Police has plead guilty to accepting 165,000 dollar bribe and an improper 28,000 dollar loan from a contractor and real estate developer. He will have to pay over 220,000 in fines, but will serve no jail time.

As a member of the Rudolph Guliani Administration in New York, Kerik fostered a tough-on-crime image, and jailed thousands for petty crimes under a policy know as “broken windows.” This guilty plea comes after Mr. Kerik withdrew his name from consideration for the Position as head of the department of Homeland Security because he employed illegal immigrants in his sprawling upstate mansion.

In response to the convictions, Mr. Kerik's name was stripped from the Manhattan jail. The 881 bed facility -- known to most as "the tombs" - was named in Kerik's honor during the Guliani Administration; the signs bearing his name were unceremoniously removed by city workers between one and three AM yesterday morning.

[0:30] Mexico election results

Yesterday, for the first time in six years, Presidential elections were held in Mexico. At this time, the results of the elections are still unclear, with two candidates vying for the position.

With 97.5% of the votes accounted for, the latest reports state the National Action Party, or PAN candidate, has 36.35% of the votes and the Revolutionary Democratic Party, or PRD candidate has 35.37%. The candidates Calderon of PAN, and Lopez Obrador of the PRD are both claiming victory, despite a clear result announced from the Federal Election Institute.

Over the weekend, 15,000 participants in the Other Campaign, lead by Subcomandante Marcos of the Zapatistas, marched throughout Mexico City to protest the elections and their demand for a new Mexico free of corruption, violence, poverty and repression.

Over the next several days, a hand count will begin in order to determine the winner of the elections.

[7:10] This Week in Palestine by the IMEMC

And now we go to the International Middle East Media Center, who brings us this week's report from Palestine:


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.



You're listening to Rustbelt Radio. Today is our second annual bicycle themed show as part of Bike Fest a twelve day celebration of two wheeled madness, showcasing Pittsburgh in all of its uniqueness and beauty.

[11:45] Major Taylor/ Underground Railroad

We will first speak with Mario Browne from the Center for Minority Health that is a part of the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health about the Major Taylor Cycling Club and the Underground Railroad Bicycle Route.

* majortaylor.ogg: 11:30

That was just Mario Browne from the Center for Minority Health and Richie Havens singing "Follow the Drinking Gourd" For more information you can go to and

[5:50] Bicycle Accident Documentation

Next we will hear excerpts from the Radio documentary "one shoe in the road: struck cyclists and their stories

accident clip 6:06

That was just an excerpt from One shoe in the road: struck cyclists and their stories produced by Erin Yanke and Don Godwin

[6:00] Bike Pittsburgh update

Scott Bricker of Bike-Pgh, will tell us how they are working to make Pittsburgh more accesible to bicyclists ideally preventing accidents like those recounted in the previous testimonials. Bike Pittsburgh is a local organization " committed to establishing Pittsburgh as a city that is increasingly safe, accessible, and friendly to bicycle transportation"

* bikepgh.ogg: 5:50

That was just Scott Bricker from Bike-Pittsburgh. For more information you can go to

Paul Simpson

Now we’ll hear from a Bikefest event that examined bicycling as a vehicle to social and personal health. Dr. Paul Simpson, a family doctor practicing in State College, Pennsylvania, gave a lecture on the topic last thursday June 29th.

Obesity has become epidemic in the United States in the last fifteen years. In states at least 15% of the population is obese, and in many the numbers have climbed to greater than 20 percent. Paul Simpson described how a growing body of expertise is recognizing the connections between infrastructure, transportation choices, and health:

*obese-inf [1:30]

Simpson also described how new studies are providing evidence that car dependence really does increase social isolation:

* traffic-friends [2:05]

Simpson then described some of the ways in which the United States government’s policies favoring car transportation are extremely inequitable.

* new-orleans [1:30]

As a positive example of how an auto-centered city can be re-focused on more sustainable and equitable modes of transit, Simpson described the transformation of Bogota, Columbia under mayor Enrique Penalosa.

* Penalosa intro [ 1:45]

The first challenge Penalosa took on was the problem of ubiquitous parked cars on the cities’ sidewalks. Over 200 people were dying each year from being struck by cars, either on the sidewalks or while walking on the streets because the sidewalks were inaccessible.

* Penalosa-policies [5:10]

A member of the audience asked how Penalosa had been able to implement these policies without being overturned by the corporations of the United States:

* Penalosa-mimes [2:00]

Simpson also provided examples of more sustainable transportation policies in Europe:

* Netherlands [4:20]

That was Dr. Paul Simpson, whose lecture “The Bicycle, a vehicle to social equality and health” was part of Bikefest 2006. The full lecture is available for download at


And now we present the Indymedia calendar of events:

Thanks for tuning in to Rustbelt Radio here on WRCT Pittsburgh, WARC Meadville, WVJW Benwood and WPTS Pittsburgh.

Our hosts this week are Morgan Ress and Jessica McPherson with additional contributions from Andalusia Knoll, Jessica McPherson, Abie Flaxman, and Matt Toups. This week's show was produced by Donald Deeley. Special thanks to all of our hosts, producers, and contributors.

Your story 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 or call 412-923-3000. All of our shows are available for download on our website at RADIO dot INDY-P-G-H dot ORG, and this program can be heard again on Tuesday morning at 9AM after Democracy Now on WRCT 88.3FM Pittsburgh.

Tune in next week at this time for another edition of Rustbelt Radio, the Pittsburgh Independent Media Center's weekly review of the news from the grassroots.

Rustbelt Radio for July 3, 2006 [ogg vorbis]
by Indymedia Rustbelt Radio collective Monday, Jul. 03, 2006 at 10:33 PM 412-923-3000 WRCT 88.3FM

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