On this week's show...
* We take a look at the 40th anniversary of the founding of the Black Panther Party
* We hear how the new Right to Know law in India is empowering people to challenge corruption
* Stories about the gaming task force in Pittsburgh and news from Palestine
* and more in our local and global headlines
Welcome to this week's edition of Rustbelt Radio, the Pittsburgh Independent Media Center's weekly review of the news from the grassroots, news overlooked by the corporate media.
On this week's show...
We take a look at the 40th anniversary of the founding of the Black Panther Party
We hear how the new Right to Know law in India is empowering people to challenge corruption
Stories about the gaming task force in Pittsburgh and news from Palestine
and more in our local and global headlines
Rustbelt Radio airs live every Monday from 6-7 PM on WRCT 88.3FM in Pittsburgh, PA, and again on Tuesday mornings 9-10 AM. We're also on Pacifica affiliate WVJW Benwood, 94.1 FM in the Wheeling, West Virginia area, on Thursdays from 6-7 PM. And we're on WPTS, 92.1 FM from the campus of the University of Pittsburgh, Saturday mornings from 9-10 AM.
We're also available on the internet, both on WRCT's live webstream at W-R-C-T dot ORG and for download, stream or podcast at radio dot I-N-D-Y-P-G-H dot org.
We turn now to local headlines.
AFSC introduces Counter-Recruitment Resolution
Last month, the American Friends Service Committee introduced a resolution to restrict military recruiter's access to Pittsburgh Public Schools students. Scilla Wahrhaftig (SILL-a war-HAF-tig), project director for the AFSC, spoke to Rustbelt Radio about the resolution:
Members of the American Friends Service Committee also attended last week's school board meeting to continue voicing their support for the resolution. They say they will continue to do so until the Board addresses their proposal.
Landslide Continues in Kilbuck Township, Commissioners Enforce Gag Rule at Town Meeting
A large-scale landslide occurred near the steeply sloped construction site of a Walmart Supercenter in Kilbuck Township Pennsylvania on September 19th. The slide shut down Route 65, leaving over 22,000 motorists detoured for weeks and rendering Norfolk Southern Railroad tracks inoperative. It happened a day after Wal-mart developers increased the power and angle of blasting on their construction site. Though no known deaths have been confirmed in connection with the slide, it left serious wreckage, pouring approximately 500,000 cubic yards of rocks and dirt onto Ohio River Boulevard. In addition, the land at the site is continuing to slide at a rate of over fourteen feet a day with the rate increasing under rainy conditions, according to officials with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.The origins of this troubling geophysical phenomenon remain not entirely explained. To local community activists, the landslide has less to do with a naturally volatile terrain and more to do with a human problem: the negligence of developers and township commissioners.
Both the activist group Communities First and a local Joint Conservation Committee have critiqued state agencies for sacrificing sound environmental policy to fit the needs of Wal-Mart, and for not making their plans and actions transparent and accountable to the Kilbuck community. The Post-Gazette quotes a Wal-mart spokesperson as saying, "What we don't want to see happen is this become any more of a political issue than it already is."
At a commissioners meeting on October 16th, Tim Frew, chairman of Kilbuck township commissioners, announced from a prepared statement that he later refused to release, that anyone asking questions about or commenting on the landslide would be asked to leave the meeting. Over 40 community members were in attendance. Frew went on to describe the landslide as an "unfortunate event"and to insist that the commissioners and developers had no part in it. Communities First! continues to advocate for more community-based environmental policy. According to Wal-Mart Watch, four years ago, when Communities First! first sued Killbuck Township on this issue, their case was dismissed for not having, quote, a compellingly sufficient interest, unquote. Reports Bob Keir, of the group, quote," I guess the 400 members of our group, 22,000 commuters and the railroad will now hopefully have standing. But I am getting tired of saying I told you so. This is the time for officials to take decisive action, revoke all permits and send this mall the way of the dinosaur" (unquote).
A legislative hearing on the cause of the Kilbuck landslide is set for Thursday November 2nd at 9 AM in Sewickley Country Inn, with testimonials collected and presented by the Joint Conservation Committee. The hearing is open to the public, but only those invited to speak will testify. Speakers include ASC development officials, geologists, commissioners, and representatives from PennDOT.
For more on this story, stay tuned to future broadcasts from Rustbelt Radio.
[4:00] Gaming Task Force/ Casino
In 2004 the Pennsylvania General Assembly approved gaming in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and created the Gaming Control Board to allocate licenses for 14 slots casinos across the State including one in Pittsburgh. Former Mayor Tom Murphy subsequently created the Pittsburgh Gaming Task Force-a coalition of community members and business leaders who would evaluate the community impact of the proposals and make recommendations for the applicants.
This past week the Pittsburgh Gaming Task force stated that the Isle of Capri proposal stands out among the three competing for the single Pittsburgh casino license. The Isle of Capri proposal is the only casino that is slated to be located in a residential neighborhood, the Lower Hill District.
After the Pittsburgh Gaming Task Force released it's near endorsement of Isle of Capri three members of this Task Force resigned, and the Heinz Endowment a major funder of the task force withdrew it's financial support.
Doug Rout of the Heinz Endowments explains why they withdrew their funding of the Pittsburgh Gaming Task Force and how he feels they have altered their mission.
* heinz.ogg: :55
State Representative Jake Wheatley thinks that the Pittsburgh Gaming Task Force Past has not listened to the concerns of Hill District residents.
* wheatley1.ogg: 1:30
He also questioned the early release of their study regarding the casino proposals.
* wheatley2.ogg: 1:15
That was just Jake Wheatley speaking about the Pittsburgh Gaming Task Force's statement about the Isle of Capri Casino. To learn more about this issue you can listen to a Rustbelt Radio report about the Hill District Gaming Task Force and HIll District residents opposition to a casino in their neighborhood on the September 11th edition of Rustbelt radio on our website radio.indypgh.org
For more on local news, you can visit pittsburgh dot I-N-D-Y-M-E-D-I-A dot org.
[ HMB BREAK RUSTBELT - 0:20 (fades down 0:10 in to start global intro) ]
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 news from other independent media sources around the world.
[2:15] Number of Palestinian Children Killed Doubles from 05 to 06
The number of Palestinian children who have been killed so far this year in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip almost doubles the number killed in all of 2005, according to the United Nations Children's Fund. Many of the children died after being shot by Israeli troops during military operations or were killed in Israeli air strikes on houses.
On Thursday October 12th, 13-year-old Suhaib Kadiah became the 92nd Palestinian child to be killed this year when she was shot dead by Israeli troops during an incursion into Gaza. The Israeli army said it was looking for tunnels and other infrastructure it claimed was being used by militants.
In July alone, 36 children were killed in Gaza after Israel launched a military operation following the capture of an Israeli soldier by Palestinian militants.
A total of 52 Palestinian children were killed in 2005. Since the second intifada began in 2000, over 800 children have been killed, according to UNICEF statistics. During this time, the most deadly year was 2002, during which 192 children were killed.
In addition to the killings, children are also suffering from increased levels of stress due to the violence and fear that is part of their daily lives under the Israeli occupation. Anne Grandjean, a UNICEF Child Protection Officer stated: "They are confronted with regular military operations, shelling, house demolitions and checkpoints on their way to schools. As a result we find high prevalence of signs of stress such as anxiety, eating and sleeping disorders, and difficulties concentrating in school. All of these signs need to be tackled as soon as possible to avoid a long-lasting impact on the child's development," she added.
UNICEF and the Humanitarian Aid Department of the European Commission are using teams of social workers and psychologists to respond to children's needs. Every month they reach 3,000 children and their families, offering support and counseling after violent incidents.
[1:30] Disappeared in Argentina
The September 18th sentencing of Miguel (a-chay-coe-lots) Etchecolatz, gave many hope that those responsible for Argentina's Dirty War would finally be prosecuted. Etchecolatz, former police commisioner was senteced to solitary confinement and life in prison for crimes of genocide. His sentencing marked a new era in Argentina since those officials responsible for murders, kidnappings, torture, rapes, and the abduction and sale of infants have not been convicted for the past 30 years.
While thousands celebrated that justice was served to Etchecolatz, his sentencing has brought a new round of fear and disappearances. Julio Lopez, a 76 year old man, was a key witness in this trial and failed to arrive to court on the day of Etchecolatz's sentencing. It is now one month later and the whereabouts of Lopez are still unknown.
Government officials and human rights groups suspect rogue members of the Buenos Aires police force with ties to the military dictatorship may have carried out Lopez's disappearance, hoping to intimidate other witnesses.
About 1,000 people nationwide are ready to testify in about 900 trials against the 1970s security forces. Many of these witnesses, human rights activists judges and prosecutors involved in these trials have been receiving death threats.
Argentina President Nestor Kirchner's party says it will extend an existing witness protection program for kidnap and drug trafficking cases to human rights cases. The government has also supported human rights groups demonstrations that brought about 10,000 people to Buenos Aires' Plaza de Mayo under the slogan "We seek the truth; we seek justice; we seek Lopez."
[0:45] More hungry despite world leaders' pledge
Exactly 10 years ago 176 world leaders at the World Food Summit pledged to halve the number of undernourished people by 2015. However, more than 850 million are still hungry ó some 18 million more than in 1996. The head of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the body charged with leading international efforts to end hunger, is set to launch a thinly veiled attack on rich countries' failure to provide desperately needed funding and political leadership. ActionAid said official aid to agriculture and rural development fell from $6.7 billion in 1984 to $2.2 billion in 2002. "The political rhetoric of world leaders has not been matched by concrete steps to guarantee the right to food," said Julian Oram, its food policy analyst. "Rather than redoubling efforts to meet the 2015 targets on eradicating hunger, world leaders have chosen to stay home and bury their heads in the sand. There seems to be no political will to tackle hunger." Sub-Saharan Africa remained the most food-insecure region in the world. The absolute number of undernourished rose 22 percent, from 169 million in 1991 to 206 million in 2002.
You can read more independent global news stories by visting indymedia: I-N-D-Y-M-E-D-I-A dot O-R-G.
You're listening to Rustbelt Radio, the Pittsburgh Independent Media Center's weekly review of news from the grassroots.
[18:00] Black Panther Party 40th Anniversary
Forty years ago, in October 1966, the Black Panther Party was born. This was one of the highlights in the history of U.S. revolutionary movements, and Black liberation struggles.
The Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, as the party was first called, was formed in Oakland, California by Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale.
These men recognized the need for an organization that was capable of addressing the racist violence that the Black youth were facing at that time.
Over the years, as the organization grew more powerful and influential, the government resorted to extreme repression to crush the movement they had begun.
Here's Johanna Fernandez, CMU Professor, on the importance of the Black Panther Party and their ten point program to the history of social movements:
* bpp_tenpoint.ogg: ten point (0:40)
Youth were the lifeblood of this movement. Johanna Fernandez speaks again on the role of youth in political struggle and the importance of alternative media to the party:
* bpp_young_people.ogg: young people in bpp (1:15)
On October 15th, members of the Black Panther Party from across the US, gathered in Oakland California recently to celebrate their 40th anniversary as a group.
Davey D, hip-hop artist and radio producer conducted interviews with several members of the Black Panther Party, including Bobby McCall, Malik Raheim, Tareka Lewis, and others.
As a young 16 year old girl, Tareka Lewis became the first woman to join the Panthers when she felt called to action to change the conditions of her Oakland neighborhood. Once a thriving black business district, Oakland became an impoverished area due to urban development and eminent domain.
Tareka tells the history of the strong presence of Ku Klux Klan Members in the Oakland area. The actions of these racist men in power, led to the economic and social decline of the black community. It is from these conditions, that the Black Panther Party was born.
The Panthers were a nationwide movement, with chapters on the East as well as West Coast. Bobby McCall, describes the conditions of his hometown Philadelphia and what made him get involved with the Panthers:
bobby 1 (2:00)
Bobby describes the work of the Philadelphia chapter, and how their community organizing efforts earned them the title of terrorists by the US government.
bobby 2 (1:20)
Besides giving away free food and clothing to their communities, the Black Panthers also encouraged community efforts to monitor the police, and the use of firearms to do so. Members of the Black Panthers in Boston, describe the Pantherís ideas behind community control of the police:
Police control boston (0:51)
Malik Raheim , a member of the Panthers in New Orleans, is now working with the Common Ground Collective he helped to found in the wake of Katrina. He describes the challenges faced by the black community:
malik on past (1:20)
Malik also reflects upon the oppression against the Panthers in the past, and discusses his views on the current state of the US government.
Malik x: (3:36)
That was Malik Rahim who was interviewed by Davey D at the 40th anniversary celebration of the Black Panther Party's founding.
[2:00] Song- Dead Prez
OR Common/ Dead Prez/ Last Poets: Panther * panther.mp3: common/ dead prez/ last poets - song about black panthers
India's Sunshine Laws
On Thursday October 20th, Arvind (AR-vind) Kejriwal spoke at an event convened by the Pittsburgh chapter of the Association for Indian Development on the effects of the new national Right to Information law recently enacted in India, similar to the United States' Freedom of Information Act. Arvind Kejriwal worked in the Indian Revenue Service for a number of years in the 1990s, and from that experience became determined to work to end corruption through greater government transparency. He founded Parivartan - a Delhi based citizensí movement trying to ensure a just, transparent and accountable governance- in 2000, and worked in the campaign for the national right to information law that was enacted in October 2005.
In 1976, the Indian Supreme Court ruled that the Right to Information is a fundamental right for all Indians.
* supreme_court.wav [1:15]
The movement for a Right to Information law was sparked in 1990 when workers in Rajasthan, who were being denied their full wage by corrupt officials pocketing part of the money, demanded to see the accounts that documented their labor and pay. That protest snowballed into a national peoples' movement.
Kejriwal said that Aruna Roy, an esteemed social justice crusader in India who founded the social justice organization MasDOOR KiSHAN SHAKti SANGritan, was instrumental in the movement, and that the support of Sonia Gandhi finally enabled the law to be passed in October 2005. Sonia Gandhi, no relation to Mahatma Gandhi, is the widow of the grandson of India's first prime minister Jawaharlal (juh-WAH-her-LAAL) Nehru (NAIR-oo) and the leader of the major political party Indian National Congress.
Kejriwal described the provisions of the Right-to-Information Act, one of the most progressive in the world.
* description.wav [2:10]
The Indian law differs from the United States' Freedom of Information Act in several ways. The Indian law provides a standard fee for all requests, while the FOIA law allows the relevant agency to assess the cost of the request and pass that on to the requestee, unless they meet specific criteria for a fee waiver. Both laws contain a provision for appeal; in the Indian law, it is a special Information Bureau agent who reviews the appeal, while in the U.S., the same agency reviews the appeal. The Indian law requires that the request be filled within 30 days, while the FOIA has no time limit, and users often find substantial delays due to a backlog of requests or government inaction. Both laws have provisions for withholding information related to National Security; the interpretation of this clause has not yet been tested in India.
The National Right to Information law was enacted so recently that its operation is still being developed and its powers tested. However, 9 states in India passed Right to Information laws at earlier dates. Arvind Kejriwal described Parivarthan's experience using the law in Delhi.
* nanoo.wav [2:15]
Parivathan has seen hundreds of cases with similar outcomes. Kejriwal described a campaign to raise awareness of the Right to Information law that has resulted in 22,000 applications being filed for every type of government service, including old age pensions, food distribution, electricity, passports, and road maintenance.
Kejriwal gave another example of the use of the law to bring about reform in a low-income food distribution program in Delhi. The government gives out ration cards to low income people, and sells food staples such as wheat and rice to a network of privately owned "ration shops" at highly subsidized rates. The ration shops are then supposed to distribute the food to those with ration cards. However, in Delhi, the shopkeepers were instead selling the wheat and rice on the black market. In many areas of the city the shopkeepers actually closed their shops completely and told the people that the government had stopped the food distribution program, while in fact the entire supply was being siphoned off by the shopkeepers for profit. Parivarthan helped a woman named Triveni (tri-VAY-nee) to submit a Right-to-Know application.
* triveni.wav [3:30]
Based on the records returned with the Right to Information requests, Parivarthan calculated that 93% of the wheat and 97% of the rice in the food distribution system in Delhi was being diverted. This put a tremendous sum of money at stake, and the shopkeepers whose interests were threatened by public knowledge of the corruption retaliated:
* foodreform.wav [1:15]
Kejriwal also described an example of how Parivarthan used the Right to Information Act to affect policy making at the highest levels of government.
* water.wav [2:15]
Kejriwal described in detail how the records released under the Right to Information Act request showed that the World Bank had forced the Delhi government to violate its own contracting policies in order to favor a particular company, which would have profited tremendously from the privatization. Parivarthan made the information public and gave it to a number of professors at Indian universities and prominent academic societies, who in turn voiced their opposition to the Prime Minister.
* who_decides.wav [:35]
* summary.wav [1:00]
You're listening to Rust Belt Radio.
[2:30] Calendar of events
And now we present the Indymedia calendar of events:
From October 22nd-throughout the 25th, the Jubilee USA Network presents the Drop the Debt, Invest in People Tour. This tour will feature speakers from the US, Zambia, and Peru who will explain the impact of the global debt crisis on developing countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. They will be presenting at various churches and colleges throughout the 3 days. For more information on their schedule, log on to www.thomasmertoncenter.org/calendar
Thursday October 26th, from 6-9pm, SPACE art gallery will present: EMERGENCY : AFGHANISTAN, a professional Photo Exhibit. The exhibit by will be an opportunity to highlight the humanitarian work done in Afghanistan by Emergency. SPACE art Gallery is located at 812 Liberty Avenue in downtown Pittsburgh.
Also on Thursday the 26th at 6pm Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Muta Maathai, an alumna of the University of Pittsburgh, will speak in Pitt's Alumni Hall. She will discuss her 30-year effort to reforest her native Kenya by planting 30 million trees and her work to impact the lives of women.
Friday the 27th, as part of a national day of action, there will be a protest at the McDonalds on Forbes Avenue in Oakland at 4pm. The local Student Farmworker Alliance, working with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and the Alliance for Fair Food, will be calling on McDonalds to pay a penny more per pound of tomatoes. For more information log on to www.sfalliance.org or call 814-602-5943.
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 27 AT CMU there will be a POETRY & MUSIC BENEFIT TO RAISE FUNDS FOR DARFUR. Human rights activist Simon Deng, a former slave from the Sudan, will be the featured speaker at the event which will raise funds for the humanitarian work of Doctors Without Borders in Southern Sudan and Chad, and Save Darfur. The event will be held on the Carnegie Mellon University campus, in the Adamson Wing of Baker Hall. Advance reservations are recommended and can be made by calling 412 441-8172, or emailing JBauer103w @aol.com
Also on Friday, Pittsburgh Critical Mass will gather for it's annual halloween ride. Costumes are encouraged. To join the bike ride, meet at the Dinosaur at the Carnegie Library in Oakland at 5:30pm.
On Saturday the 28th at 7:30 PM, The University of Pittsburgh will present a concert - Smokestack Lightnin': Songs of the Working Life". This musical ensemble will strive to bring labor history alive through music. The performance will be held in Bellefield Hall, which is located on Bellefield Avenue between Forbes and Fifth Avenues in Oakland.
[ Outro music ]
Thanks for tuning in to Rustbelt Radio here on WRCT Pittsburgh, WVJW Benwood and WPTS Pittsburgh.
Today we would like to send special 25th birthday wishes to Matt Toups, co-creator, producer, director, and reporter for Rustbelt Radio.
Our hosts this week are [ Carlin Christy and Andalusia Knoll ] with contributions from [ Jessica McPherson, VaniNatarajan, and Matt Toups ]. This week's show was produced by [Don Deeley ]. Special thanks to all of our hosts, producers, and contributors.
You can get involved with Rustbelt Radio! To contact us, 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 or podcast on our website at RADIO dot INDY-P-G-H dot ORG and this show can be heard again Tuesday morning on WRCT at 9 AM after Democracy Now!
Tune in next week at this time for another edition of Rustbelt Radio, the Pittsburgh Independent Media Center's weekly review of news from the grassroots.