On this week's show...
* People are calling for the closing on Guantanamo Bay on the detention centerâ€™s five year anniversary.
* Polar Bears are drawing attention to the global warming crisis
* Paul Simpson describes the bicycle's potential as a vehicle for social equality
* a wave of violence has broken out in New Orleans, claiming many lives including those of local activists, artists, and musicians
* The Zapatistas mark the 13th anniversary of their uprising with an international gathering in Chiapas, Mexico
* plus 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 today's show...
Polar Bears are drawing attention to the global warming crisis
People are calling for the closing on Guantanamo Bay on the detention center’s five year anniversary.
Paul Simpson describes the bicycle's potential as a vehicle for social equality
a wave of violence has broken out in New Orleans, claiming many lives including those of local activists, artists, and musicians
The Zapatistas mark the 13th anniversary of their uprising with an international gathering in Chiapas, Mexico
plus more in our local and global headlines
Rustbelt Radio airs live every Monday from 6-7 PM on WRCT 88.3 FM 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 can be heard 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.
[1:00] No Casino on the Hill
Victory has come for activists and residents who have been fighting the development of a Casino in the Hill District. On December 20th the state Gaming Control Board granted PITG Gaming Majestic Star the casino license to construct a a slot machine parlor on the North Side near the Carnegie Science Center.
This decision was reached days after over 100 Hill District Residents and supporters gathered on Freedom Corner to say "not one more inch". This phrase was a throwback to the 1950's when thousands of residents were evicted for the Mellon Arena and development in the Lower Hill. They likened the casino to the arena and the vowed that this harmful development would not come "one inch" further into the Hill District.
No Dice and Casino Free Pittsburgh also participated in the rally and made a case against casinos anywhere in Pennsylvania. They believe the harmful effects associated with gaming go far beyond a casino’s walls. They are calling for a moratorium on casinos and Bruce Barron, president of No Dice says “it is never too late to avert actions that will, if taken, cause great social and economic harm to the people of Pennsylvania.”
[1:00] 2006 Allegheny County homicide statistics
The New Pittsburgh Courier compiled a list of homicides reported by the Allegheny County Coroner’s Office in 2006. Of the ninety-five homicides reported in Allegheny County, seventy-seven took the lives of Black people.
The January 3-9 edition of the Courier carried an article and an editorial about the homicide statistics. The Courier compiled the list, “as part of an ongoing effort to heighten awareness about the effects of murder in Black communities.”
The number of homicides in Allegheny County went down from ninety-seven in 2005 to ninety-six in 2006. Fifty-four of the county’s homicides took place in the city of Pittsburgh. Seventy of the county’s homicides took the lives of Black men.
For more information, visit www.newpittsburghcourier.com.
[2:30] Wal-mart troubles continue in Kilbuck, now set to expand in Moon
Trouble continues at the proposed site of a twenty-eight million dollar Wal-mart super store and shopping plaza in Kilbuck. In September of 2006, a landslide at the site caused the four lane Route sixty-five to be blocked for two weeks. Now the discovery of a three foot wide hole on the site is raising new concerns about the stability of the land.
Last Wedneday, Department of Environmental Protection staff discovered the hole during a routine visit. The depression is directly over one of the many tunnels that once connected the hospital's buildings and that were left in place when the developer, Kilbuck Properties LP, began moving dirt to create a steep-sided plateau for the shopping plaza.
In addition to the new hole, the DEP revealed that a half-dozen previously undisclosed shallow depressions have also occurred on the land since the developer stopped moving earth from the site of the landslide in October. The new hole is different from the depressions the DEP attributes to 'typical soil settling.'
Ron Schwartz, DEP assistant regional director stated, "It's unlikely that this hole is related to the original slide or any potential for new slides but we don't know for certain at this time."
The discovery of the subsidence occurred just days after the River Pointe shopping plaza developer submitted an engineering report containing information of continuing minor earth movement at the site, which contains slippery clays and shales known as the "Pittsburgh redbeds" that are prone to landslides.
Bob Keir, a leader of Communities First!, a Kilbuck group opposed to the development, said, "Our position has always been that the redbeds were not sufficiently stable to hold up a shopping center and the tunnels…"
The developer’s eight-page report, still under review by the DEP, made no mention of the hole or any of the other half dozen depressions, but said some sections of the site continue to move at an average rate of three inches a week. Helen Humphreys, a DEP spokeswoman, said the new hole emphasizes the need for more information about the site and also the importance of the data the DEP ordered Kilbuck Properties to provide.
While the Wal-mart construction at the Kilbuck site is facing many obstacles, Wal-mart has just purchased the struggling West Hills Shopping Center in Moon Township, located approximately ten miles from the Kilbuck site. The plaza has been sold for four point seven million dollars and development plans would include tearing down the existing buildings to make room for a new Wal-mart or Sam’s Club store. Wal-mart spokesman Jim Davis stated that plans for the Moon location are unrelated to their proposed supercenter in Kilbuck.
[1:45] Mercury regs blocked by LRB
Regulations requiring coal power plants to reduce mercury emissions have hit a new hurdle, after they appeared set to become law. The regulations, advanced by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, will require coal-fired power plants to reduce their mercury pollution by 90 percent by 2015. At the close of 2006, the regulations appeared to have completed the full review process necessary to be enacted, after two years of political struggle between a broad coalition of health and environmental advocates and the coal power industry.
However, the last step for regulations and bills to become law requires that they be submitted to a little-known agency called the Legislative Reference Bureau, whose function is to provide legal reference in crafting the language of bills and regulations.
The director of the Legislative Reference Bureau has now sent a letter to the head of the DEP stating the Bureau is refusing to publish the mercury regulations.
The mercury regulations have gone through a two-year public participation process that included approval by the Air Quality Technical Advisory Committee, three approvals by the Environmental Quality Board, a stakeholder workgroup process, three public hearings, the submission of almost 11,000 supportive public comments, and finally, approval by Pennsylvnia’s Independent Regulatory Review Commission and the Attorney General. Two bills were introduced in the General Assembly to stop the rule, but neither of them gained approval in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. After the legislative session closed without passing a bill to strike the regulations, it appeared they had to take effect. The advocacy group Penn Future argues that the Legislative Review Board has no authority to choose not to publish legally adopted regulations.
For more on local news, you can visit pittsburgh dot I-N-D-Y-M-E-D-I-A dot org.
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.
The 'First Encounter between the Zapatistas and the People of the World' took place in Chiapas, Mexico, from December 30, 2006 to January 2, 2007. The meeting took place at Oventik (oh-ven-teek), a Zapatista center for social projects, or ‘caracole’. The Good Governance Council welcomed the crowd:
The goal of the encounter was for people to get to know each other, listen to each other’s words and learn about different forms of resistance and struggle.
Two hundred-two authorities from autonomous rebel Zapatista municipalities were present and over 1000 people traveled from 48 countries around the world to attend.
The weekend also marked the 13th anniversary of the Zapatista uprising. Comandante David addressed the crowd:
Discussion and presentations centered around seven themes of the Zapatista autonomous projects, including: government, education, health, women's struggles, communication and art, economic cooperatives, and the struggle for land and territory. The Zapatistas discussed the experiences they have had over the past years with autonomous government, and the challenges and problems they have faced constructing this anti-capitalist project. After each presentation the audience was invited to ask questions and take the stage to share their stories of struggle from around the world.
The final session focused on the planning of the Intergalactic Encuentro. The Intergalactic will create space for the building of an international movement, from the left and from below, against neoliberalism. It was first proposed in the Sixth Declaration of the Selva Lacandona, which was released in the summer of 2005, and is the international counterpart to Mexico's Other Campaign.
For more information on the encounter and the Sexta, see Chiapas indymedia, ezln.org, and commondreams.org: http://www.ezln.org/documentos/2005/sexta1.en.htm , http://www.commondreams.org/views06/0118-21.htm.
[1:30] Deportation of Refugees in Morocco
December 23, 2006 marked a day of violent police raids in the immigrant neighborhoods of Rabat, Morocco. Over four hundred people, most of them from Subsaharan African countries including Congo and Cote d’Ivoire, were arrested and forced into buses by Moroccan police. This included several who had been granted refugee status by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
Buses transported refugees into the Algerian border town of Oujda and left them in the middle of the desert as police shot into the air. Armed gendarmerie, or special police, blocked local activists from Oujda as well as doctors from Doctors Without Borders, from reaching refugees. Two days later, Moroccan police forcibly displaced immigrants from the city of Nador, Morocco, to Oujda. To date, most remain missing, though some managed to reach nearby towns in Algeria. These disappearances echo those of refugees trying to cross the Moroccan border into Spain in the cities of Ceuta and Melilla, in October 2005, when Spanish and Moroccan police killed over fourteen people trying to cross the border fences into the Spanish territories of Morocco.
Immigrant rights activists from Attac Maroc point out that these raids were strategically timed during the week of Christmas holidays. They accuse the Moroccan government of assisting the European Union in trying to keep African people from entering Europe. Attac Maroc calls for immediate liberation of all deported persons. The group CEAR, or Comision Espanola de Ayuda al Refugiado, is petitioning the Spanish government to provide for the resettlement of refugees in Spain, according to reports from Indymedia Estrecho.
[4:30] Long time Food Not Bombs activists dies
On December 15th, 2006, life-long activist Eric Weinberger, of Boston, passed away after a battle with Alzheimers Disease. Seventy-four year-old Eric spent the past fifty years of his life dedicated to several radical projects and social justice movements. Throughout his life he worked in the Civil Rights movement, Anti-War movement, and helped to found the grassroots anti-hunger anti-military organization Food Not Bombs. In the twenty years since the inception of Food Not Bomb, the project has spread across the globe to hundreds of towns and cities. Eric continued his work with Food Not Bombs in Boston until his early seventies. Rustbelt Radio spoke to another Food Not Bombs activist and friend of Eric, Homefries.
She tells us about when she first met Eric in 1999:
ERIC 1 (0:30)
Homefries and Eric continued to cook and serve vegetarian food to Boston’s homeless people for the next several years. During this time, Homefries grew to know Eric on a personal level and in his final years she and several other Boston activists became his caretakers. Homefries explains how the forty-five year difference between the two of them impacted her:
ERIC 2 (0:50)
Eric Weinberger was not only active in Boston, but also across the United States. Homefries describes the effect his work had during his lifetime:
ERIC 3 (1:07)
Finally, Homefries shares the lessons she took from Eric's life:
ERIC 4 (0:51)
For a complete article on Eric Weinberger's life and work, go to boston.indymedia.org.
[1:40] Commensurate Wages and the Fight for Economic Justice and Disability Rights
Rustbelt Radio will now bring you an update on wage discrimination against people with disabilities in the United States, from The New Standard's TNS Radio:
* disabilitywages.mp3: Wages Disability
That was an update from The New Standard's TNS Radio. For more TNS Radio updates, you can visit newstandardnews.net/radio.
The U.S. detention center located in Guantanamo, Cuba has created much debate since its beginnings five years ago. As part of the US governments “war on terror,” hundreds of people from dozens of countries are being held without charge or trial and there is increasing evidence that inmates have been subjected to torture and inhumane practices. Many people from the US and other parts of the world have expressed much dissatisfaction towards the treatment of the detainees and a desire to shut down this facility. Many people have also been confused as to why the US is allowing such human rights violations to continue.
Jules Lobel , a law professor at the University of Pittsburgh, explains the paradigm shift that has allowed for places like Guantanamo to exist :
Guantanamo, 1 jules lobel: (3:20)
This January marks the 5th year anniversary of Guantanamo, prompting protest in Washington DC on Thursday, January 11th. There may be events to protest Guantanamo in your area for those who cannot make it to DC and wish to act in solidarity. Please visit witnesstorture.org for more information.
Violence sweeps through struggling New Orleans communities
After a difficult year of rebuilding in 2006, the city of New Orleans experienced a dramatic increase in violent murders around the new year. Since December 28th, fourteen people have been killed in a city with an esimated remaining population of two hundred to two hundred-fifty thousand people. A writer for the Edmonton Sun newspaper called this faster than the casualty rate for U.S. servicemen in Iraq this year.
One of the first victims of the recent crime wave was twenty-five year-old musician Dinerral Shavers, the snare drum player for the Hot Eight Brass Band, who was also a bandleader and mentor for public high school students. He was shot around five thirty pm while driving with his family in the fifth Ward neighborhood near the now closed Lafitte housing project. Police have arrested a seventeen year-old for the shooting.
In the week that followed a dozen more people were murdered in unrelated incidents in both uptown and downtown neighborhoods of the city. Another respected community member and artist was killed last week; Helen Hill was shot dead in her home. Her husband, Paul Gailiunas, was also shot three times while holding his two year old son. He survived and his son was unharmed.
Helen was an independent filmmaker and activist, and along with her husband was active with Food Not Bombs. Paul is also a doctor who founded a charity clinic for low income people in his neighborhood.
Neighbors of Helen and Paul have organized a protest march to the city hall to call on officials to address crime problems. The mayor and police superintendent have considered re-imposing a curfew over the city. Both officials and residents acknowledge the role of a failing education system, extremely limited housing options and job opportunities in the larger social crisis. But many public schools and public housing facilities remain closed with no indication of reopening in the near future.
This past Saturday a funeral was held for Dinerral Shavers, and afterwards his bandmates and others from the Brass Band community in New Orleans marched in a second line. A part of the Jazz funeral tradition, the second line is a participatory musical procession which is both mournful and celebratory of the deceased. As we go into our musical break, Rustbelt Radio brings you sounds recorded by Matt Toups at the second line for Dinerral Shavers of the Hot Eight Brass band, through his original "stomping grounds" in the streets of New Orleans.
second line audio
You're listening to Rustbelt Radio, the Pittsburgh Independent Media Center's weekly review of news from the grassroots.
[9:30] Polar Bears and Indigenous view on Climate Change
The US Department of the Interior has announced a proposal to list polar bears as a threatened species because of declining Arctic ice levels. This announcement marks the first time the US has made a direct link between global climate change and the threat to a species. The Polar bear would be the first animal to be listed as threatened due to global warming. Being listed as "threatened" is one step below being "endangered".
Environmental and animal lobby groups welcomed the proposal. Kassie Siegel, of the Centre for Biological Diversity, said it was "a watershed decision in the way this country deals with climate change". However, listing the bears as threatened is still a year away, pending further studies.
The listing would require all federal agencies not to take decisions that would threaten polar bears' survival.
Polar Bears are known as “nature’s ultimate survivors.” Yet, their population is now decreasing, due to the loss of their habitat. Melting of ice floes are causing the bears to swim longer distances, which has led to drownings.
The Swiss-based Polar Bear Specialist Group projects a 30% decline in numbers over the next 45 years.
Along with the plight of the polar bear, the unseasonably warm temperatures are drawing national attention to the global warming crisis. However, for the indigenous peoples of the Americas, global warming is not a new concern.
Oannes Pritzker, is a Native ecologist, journalist and activist of the Wabanaki people. He is director of Yat Kitischee Native Center; an Inter-Tribal Cultural/Environmental/ and Social Justice grassroots organization. He has spoken throughout the world on many issues of earth-justice and human rights from an indigenous perspective. On January 4th, he spoke on First Voices Indigenous Radio, which airs on WBAI in New York City.
In a clip from that interview, he explains how as a native person who grew up living on the land, he and other native peoples were able to foresee the global climate changes which are just now becoming apparent to the public:
oannes 1 ( 2:05)
Oannes named 8 specific international declarations such as the Albuquerque Declaration of 1998, that have been written by native peoples over the last several years to address the drastic climate changes that are being caused by industrialized society. Perhaps the most glaring example of global warming is the melting of the Arctic Ice pack. Oannes discusses this further:
oannes 2 (3:33)
Finally, Oannes describes the necessity for mainstream society to listen to and appreciate the wisdom of native peoples.
oannes 3 (1:40)
That was Oannes Pritzker of the Wabanaki people speaking on First Voices Indigenous Radio, which airs on WBAI in New York City. To hear the entire conversation with Oannes, you can go to www.first voices radio. org
[10:00] Paul Simpson Bikefest Lecture
Dr. Paul Simpson, a family doctor practicing in State College, Pennsylvania, spoke last June at Bikefest in Pittburgh. His talk examined the bicycle's potential as a vehicle to social and personal health.
Obesity has become epidemic in the United States in the last fifteen years. The number of states reporting obesity rates greater than 20 percent increased from zero in 1985 to 46 in 2005. Paul Simpson described how a growing body of expertise is recognizing the connections between infrastructure, transportation choices, and health:
Simpson also described how new studies are providing evidence that car dependence really does increase social isolation:
Simpson then described some of the ways in which the United States government’s policies favoring car transportation are extremely inequitable.
*3 new-orleans.wav [1:30]
Simpson described the pedestrian-friendly features of a typical dutch village:
*4 Design.wav [0:28]
That’s 9 miles per hour. Simpson said the average residential speed limit in the US is 35 miles per hour, and most drivers exceed the speed limit by 10 miles an hour.
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These two speed limit policies have dramatically different consequences for public safety:
* 6Safety.wav [1:45]
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 www.indypgh.org
[1:00] Calendar of Events
And now we present the Indymedia Calendar of Events:
On Wednesday the 10th, the Big Idea book store will be hosting a discussion group on Derrick Jensen’s “Walking on Water.” The discussion will be held from 7 to 9 pm at the Big Idea store, located at 504 S. Millvale Avenue in Bloomfield. For more information, see www. the big idea pgh (dot) org or call 412-687-4323.
This Thursday January 11th, is called to be an International Day of Action to Shut Down GuantĂˇnamo. TO mark the 5th anniversary of prisoners' arrival at the detention center, people will gather in Washington DC to protest. Events including a teach-in, vigil, press conference, and direct actions will take place. For information on rides leaving Pittsburgh contact Scilla Wahrhaftig at swahrhaftig @afsc.org or call 412-371-3607. And for more information on logistics of the event, visit www.witness torture.org
This Friday January the 12th and Saturday the 13th, people of all diverse backgrounds, are welcome to view an exhibition of works by Artists Emory Biko and Maritza Mosquera, and take part in conversations on the subject of Race in America. Friday the 12th, from 7 to 9pm, there will be an opening reception. And on Saturday, the exhibition will be open from 11 – 2 pm, with a Community dialoge to follow from 2 – 5 pm. The event will be held at Artists Image Resource, located at 518 Foreland Street, on the Northside. For more information on the event, call 412 362-5976.
[ Outro Music ]
Thanks for tuning in to Rustbelt Radio here on WRCT Pittsburgh, WVJW Benwood and WPTS Pittsburgh.
Our hosts this week are Matt Toups and Diane Amdor with contributions from Carlin Christy, Matt Toups, Diane Amdor, Vani Natarajan, Jessica McPherson, Lizzie Anderson, and Andalusia Knoll. 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.